Stage 1

The mindfulness of breathing practice as taught here is available as a CD or as an MP3 audio download.”

First, set up your posture, using our posture guidelines, then come back and read what’s next…

Okay, now we’re sitting comfortably, we’ll begin.

Stage Zero

Before we can start on Stage 1, we need to do some essential preparation — what I call “Stage Zero”. Stage 0 involves setting up your meditation posture, then taking your awareness through your body relaxing as much as you can. You might find it beneficial to read a fuller description of the background and practice of this important stage before beginning Stage One.

This meditation is not a breathing exercise, and we don’t control the breath in any way, simply letting it flow naturally in and out. Generally we inhale and exhale through the nose, unless perhaps the nose is blocked.

It’s natural for there to be a slight pause between the end of the in breath and the start of the exhalation, and a slightly longer pause between the end of the out breath and the start of the in breath. Again, we allow the breath to flow naturally, and there’s no question of deliberately holding the breath or controlling it in any way.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to take a few deep, long, breaths, or to breath more fully using the abdomen. This is done to encourage the body and mind to slow down. But if this is done it’s just for a few breaths, after which we let the breathing return to a natural rhythm.

Stage 1 – Counting the Breath

Once you’ve taken a tour of your whole body, begin to focus on the physical sensations of your breath. Let yourself become absorbed in the sensations of the breath flowing in and out of your body. Notice how the sensations are always changing.

Then begin counting (internally) after every out-breath:
Breathe in – breathe out – 1
Breathe in – breathe out – 2
Breathe in – breathe out – 3
Breathe in – breathe out – 4
Breathe in – breathe out – 5
… and so on until you reach ten. Once you get to ten, start again at one.

Keep following the breath, and counting, for at least five minutes.

If your mind wanders, just come back to experiencing the physical sensations of the breath, and begin counting again.

Really notice the qualities of the out-breath. Notice the sense of letting go, the downward movement in the body, the feeling of relaxation as your body releases, and perhaps even a sense of mental calming.

Bring as much patience into the process as possible. It’s normal for a lot of thoughts to arise, and from time to time you’ll completely forget you’re supposed to be following your breath. Distraction is a normal part of the meditation process.

You can listen to an MP3 guided meditation that will lead you through the First Stage of the practice by clicking on the player below:

152 Comments. Leave new

Just discovered your site after listening to a guided meditation on another site. I would love to take one of the classes. Also dealing with chronic insomnia. Any suggestions. Thanks, Reanna


I have an article I wrote some years ago on techniques I’ve found helpful for getting to sleep. Perhaps that’ll help, Reanna.


Hello sir.

i have a query regarding meditation. i have been trying for sometime now but I am not being able to focus my attention on one thought or just my breath. moreover, I keep yawning for some strange reason. My eyes get filled with tears as a result and I get distracted.
I can not sit for more than 10 mins at a time and I feel like a failure.
Please give me tips as to how to reduce the yawning at least.
I meditate indoors. in a dimly lit air conditioned room and I use a meditation tape which makes my focus better.


Hi, Prakruti.

I don’t know why you find yourself yawning, but the important thing here is to just accept that it’s happening. It’s not a distraction unless you obsess over it.


I have started to feel a bit depressed when I meditate and it’s putting me off practising. I have been meditatino daily for 5 weeks using mindfulness of breathing. Do you hAve any suggestions? Thank you


I’d suggest that you alternate mindfulness of breathing and lovingkindness practice on a daily basis, Lynda.


Hi prakruti
My experience with meditation is the following. If you are getting tired maybe it’s because ur relaxing ur body is letting go of held tensions. Another reason can be that ur trying to hard and causing ur self anxiety. I suggest you start with Metta meditation to sooth ur energies in to a more pleasent state so u attention can just settle. You can even try yoga and then meditation. Often times we are so hard on our selves thay we forget to be tender. Do metta and ones ur mind feels pleasent ur attention will settle 2. Look ajahn brahm retreats on YouTube.


i have lost my love life and not able to concentrate anything than this and i m developing suicidal tendancies , i tried to do mediation but not able to do it properly , even atmosphere is not suitable for it , can you please help me to live happy and peaceful life


Hi, Piyu.

This isn’t really a good place to seek counseling, I’m afraid. All I can advise is that you work on accepting that your relationship has come to an end. It’s painful to do this, but it’s the only way you can move on. Although it’s hard to believe, there is plenty of opportunity for finding love in the future, but you can’t open yourself up to those opportunities without letting go first.

At the same time, your happiness doesn’t depend on you finding the right romantic relationship. It comes from having the right relationship to your experience: practicing mindfulness, seeing that every experience arises and passes, having kindness and compassion… You can be happy, right now, in this moment, if you stop clinging to your pain and instead stand back and observe it with mindfulness.


First of all, thanks for your wonderful website! I started breathing meditation a few moths ago and wanted to share a couple of interesting experiences. First, I noticed that I get physically warm during the practice (even my feet, which are always cold). Sometimes, I even get a little sweaty! I assume this is due to increased circulation.
Second, during meditation, I notice an intense itch, which seems to move from place to place during the meditation. I try to ignore it, but usually scratch it, then a moment later it pops up somewhere else. This only happens when I meditate. Any thoughts?


I’m glad you like the website, Roland.

The warming is almost certainly due to your parasympathetic nervous system becoming more active and increasing your peripheral blood flow. That may well settle down in time.

That kind of itch is very common. If you can ignore it by becoming absorbed in something else, then that’s great. If you can’t ignore it, then take it as the object of your meditation. Don’t scratch! Notice the qualities of the itch, perhaps even naming them (buzzing, heat, prickling, tickling, etc.).


Thanks for your response. I was afraid I would receive a new age-y reply like “It’s your chi forcing negative energy out” lol.


It’s your chi forcing your negative energy out :)

The itch is possibly some part of your mind that doesn’t want you to settle down and become mindful, messing with you. You can turn the tables on it by becoming mindful of its shenanigans.


Hi Bodhipaksa,
Your web site is really informative.Can mindfullness of breathing meditation help me to strenghten my”rational” mind.As I am a very intuitive person I go to pieces whenever I’m faced with a difficult mental task that has to be done…I.e…the washing machine..DVD player.Thank you


Oh, yes, Paddy. With a more mindful approach it’s easier to avoid panicking in the face of challenges. It’s also been shown in one study that meditation helps people to make decisions more rationally.

Paddy Dunne
March 6, 2015 1:55 pm

Thank you so much Bodhipaksa.
Untill recently I’d always believed that the severe risistance of my rational mind to problem solving was a personal fault.Now,on good authority, I know that’s not true.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift”..Albert Einstein .


I think it’s good not to confuse “conscious mind” with “rational mind.” A lot of the processing that goes on unconsciously is perfectly rational, while a lot of our conscious thought is deeply irrational. (Tried having a conversation with a climate change denier, recently?)


I find myself yawning right after very intense moments (1-3 seconds long) of focus. Usually this focus requires a great deal of resources and is emotionally challenging. The purpose of the focus is to be mindful in the midst of a very emotionally disturbing thought. The mindfulness then brings acceptance to this thought never experienced before. A great yawn follows. To me it is a sign that I am doing something right. I could yawn 2-3 times per minute, maybe even more frequently. Comments, questions? I’d like to hear if anyone had similar ideas about why they yawn during mindfulness meditation or during any kind of intensely focused moments!


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