Review of the practice

flowerIn the first stage we worked on calming the mind through focusing on the out-breath, which is intimately connected with a sense of letting go.

The second stage helps bring more energy and awareness into our relaxed mind by focusing our attention on the in-breath, which is inseparably linked to alertness.

The third stage, in which we pay attention equally to the in- and out-breaths blends these two qualities, of alertness and calmness to help us develop a calm, energetic awareness. When our mind is like this (and you may not have got there yet but it will come with practice) it is very “pliable.” In other words our mind has become a very powerful tool.

What we do with this tool in the fourth stage is to develop one-pointed awareness. This isn’t a forced concentration, but rather a natural absorption that is based on interest and even fascination.

Why is concentration so important? Well, that’s another story. But you can find out more by following another link.

2 Comments. Leave new

David Humphrey
November 22, 2010 2:39 pm

Stupid Question Bodhipaksa:
How long is the mindfulness of breathing exercise require. I try to mediatate fifteen minutes during the day and then the same at night. Would i be able (assuming i got to the fourth stage) to do the four stages in that time frame?


Hi David,

You can certainly do all four stages of the practice in a 15 or 16 minute period. If you time the stages you can do four minutes for each one. On the other hand it’s good not to feel regimented and to recognize that each stage has a purpose. So sometimes you might want to spend a lot of time on the first stage, while other times you might skip stages or spend very little time on them and go straight to the third or fourth stage. It’s a question of being sensitive you yourself, knowing what you need, and being aware of the effects the practice is having on you. Of course it can take time to get the hang of all that, so timing the stages is not a bad approach at first.


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