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.
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.
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) just before each in-breath, as follows:
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: