Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Mindfulness of Breathing

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Stage 2

This meditation practice, and other ways of developing mindfulness, is also taught as an online course, called The Power of Mindfulness.
The Mindfulness of Breathing, Stage Two

The second stage of the mindfulness of breathing practice is similar to the first, but instead of counting the out-breaths, as we do in stage one, we count the in-breaths. This subtly changes our experience, as you’ll see.


Set up your posture, as described in the posture guidelines, allowing the body to relax as much as possible while maintaining a sense of dignity in the way you sit.

Stage One

Then, spend a few minutes doing the first stage of the practice, counting after each out-breath in cycles of one to ten. (If you haven’t done the first stage of the practice, then we strongly recommend that you go back and review that section before trying it). When you feel you’ve begun to calm your mind down a little, move on to the second stage of the practice.

Stage Two

In the second stage of the practice we continue to count in cycles of ten breaths, the difference being that this time we count just before each inhalation.

So this time, the pattern is like this:

Then begin counting (internally) after every out-breath:

1 – Breathe in – breathe out
2 – Breathe in – breathe out
3 – Breathe in – breathe out
4 – Breathe in – breathe out
5 – Breathe in – breathe out
… and so on until you reach ten.

Once you get to ten, start over again at one before the next in-breath.

Whenever you regain your awareness after being distracted, bring your attention gently back to the breath.

Really notice the sensations of the in-breath, in particular. Notice the upward movement, the sense of expansion, the sense of energy that accompanies the inhalation, and perhaps even a sense of alertness and mental brightness.

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



Comment from Boru
Time: December 19, 2010, 5:56 pm

isn’t “after each out-breath” and “before each inhalation” the same moment?


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 19, 2010, 6:14 pm

Of course it is. But what you’re doing is either counting outbreaths that have just happened, or inbreaths just before they take place. Experientially, the two actions are quite different.


Comment from Meghan
Time: June 27, 2012, 8:18 am

Good morning again Bodhipaksa. I have a question. I have been using your mp3 recordings at the bottom of these pages to guide me through my meditations. I am finding that sitting in front of my computer to listen is a bit distracting and not ideal. Is the MP3 recording entitled Mindfulness Meditation the same as what’s here? Thank you.


Comment from Meghan
Time: June 27, 2012, 8:19 am

Oops, I’m sorry, it’s called the Mindfulness of Breathing…


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 27, 2012, 8:22 am

It’s the same practice. Every time I lead a meditation it’s different, so they’re not identical. Much better audio, though!


Comment from Meghan
Time: June 27, 2012, 8:37 am

I am not finding it on iTunes. Is the “Wisdom of the Breath: Three Guided Meditations for…” also the same practice? Sorry to bother you with this!


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 27, 2012, 8:45 am

No problem. Try here.


Comment from Melody M Peters
Time: August 14, 2012, 1:44 pm

I am grateful for this site. I have been using this as a meditation guideline. I read a little more every few days then practice.


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 14, 2012, 2:26 pm

Thanks, Melody.


Comment from johanna ryan
Time: December 21, 2013, 10:02 pm

can you please make it so the guided meditations recordings on the site are working id like to try them but none work


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 22, 2013, 8:34 pm

Presumably you’re finding that the MP3 on this page isn’t working? I’m not sure why that would be. It’s working when I try it on my computer or iPad. Perhaps you could try another browser?


Comment from sandeep
Time: December 25, 2014, 8:31 pm

Hello Bodhipaksa,

I have started mindfulness meditation few week backs. I am practising meditation daily for 20 minutes. I have started observing few things recently. While meditating some times all these common background noises and sounds like sound of heater suddenly starting, or sound of alarm clock is causing a sudden scare in me. In normal condition when we are reading or doing other activities we don’t pay attention to these sounds/noises or our attention/response to these noises are normal/limited. But when I am meditating these sudden noises is causing a sudden fear/fright-fight response (the response that normally occurs if some one tries to scare you suddenly). Is this normal or I am not focussing properly on breath. Please guide me.


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 26, 2014, 9:12 am

Hi, Sandeep. All kinds of things can happen in meditation! I’d suggest that, first, you see this as normal and accept the startle response as much as possible. Let go of any thoughts of this being “wrong” and remind yourself that it’s OK to feel startled. Second, take an interest in the experience. Notice the different sensations involved in the startle response. It happens very quickly, so you probably won’t be able to observe it as it appears, but you can notice where the sensations are and how they change. With your mind involved in observing the startle response like this, there will be less opportunity for you to add to your discomfort by thinking that it shouldn’t happen.

Paying attention to the movements of the abdomen might help you let go of the tension that arises when you become startled, as might being aware of letting go on the outbreath.

I imagine you’ll find in time that the startle response becomes less strong, or even stops happening.


Comment from Saranasiri jenny
Time: May 5, 2015, 7:16 am

Dear bodhipaksha, is there a reason for counting on the out breath in stage one. I have been asked this several times. When asking others, more experienced than me, I have been given many different answers. Thank you saranasiri.


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 5, 2015, 8:20 am

Hi, Saranasiri.

I think the purpose of counting the out-breath in stage one is to bring a bit more awareness to the out-breath. Paying attention to the out-breath gently stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing us toward calm and relaxation. Counting out-breaths focuses our attention a little more on the part of the breathing where we’re relaxing, letting go, and calming the mind. That’s pretty much what we all need to do when we first sit down to meditate. There’s all that turbulence, needing to be settled and calmed.

In the second stage we focus more on the in-breath, and that helps to bring more clarity, vividness, and energy into our (hopefully) calm mind and relaxed body. Paying attention to the in-breathing gently stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to alert mindfulness. If we continued to focus on the out-breathing we’d become dull and sleepy. The ideal is calm combined with alertness.

In the third stage we can become more aware of the continuity of the sensations of the breathing, because the tendency to see the breathing as “chopped up” into out/in breaths creates the illusion of “gaps” and gives our attention opportunities to go wandering, usually starting from one of those supposed gaps—generally between an out-breath and an in-breath. In reality there are no gaps in the sensations arising from the breathing. The whole process is continuous. And if we pay attention to the continuity, then our mindfulness becomes continuous as well.

But the third stage also combines calmness and alertness by focusing equally on the calming out-breath and the stimulating in-breath.


Comment from Saranasiri jenny
Time: May 24, 2015, 7:26 am

Thank you. Great help. Saranasiri.


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 24, 2015, 12:18 pm

You’re welcome.


Comment from apoorva jain
Time: June 25, 2015, 2:58 am

whenever i meditate it lasts maximum for 5 minutes. i can sit for an hour what i judge myself to but i get scared. as if some ghost is coming to take me away or killing me or standing in front of me, being eyes closed. so, i stop meditating. i know its funny but i am not being able to cope up with myself & explain my self. please help. i am sure you must be having a way to get my fear out of this.


Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 26, 2015, 1:24 pm

Hi, Apoorva. You already asked this question, and I already replied, here.

All the best,

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