Breath and Navel Meditation is the oldest meditation method on record in China, as well as India. It is the method usually taught to beginners. Breath and Navel Meditation works directly with the natural flow of breath in the nostrils and the expansion and contraction of the abdomen. This Taoist meditation is a good way to develop focused attention and one-pointed awareness. It is suggested to practice it twenty or thirty minutes once or twice a day.
- 1. Sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor or upright on a low stool and adjust the body’s posture until well-balanced and comfortable. Press tongue to palate, close your mouth without clenching the teeth, and lower the eyelids until almost closed.
- 2. Breathe naturally through the nose, drawing the inhalation deep down into the abdomen and making the exhalation long and smooth. Focus your attention on two sensations, one above and the other below. Above, focus on the gentle breeze of air flowing in and out of the nostrils like a bellows, and on exhalation, try to “follow” the breath out as far as possible, from 3 to 18 inches. Below, focus on the navel rising and falling and the entire abdomen expanding and contracting like a balloon with each inhalation and exhalation. You may focus attention on the nostrils or the abdomen, or on both, or one and then the other, whichever suits you best.
From time to time, mentally check your posture and adjust it, if necessary. Whenever you catch your mind wandering off or getting cluttered with thoughts, consciously shift your attention back to your breath. Sometimes, it helps to count either inhalations or exhalations, until your mind is stably focused. If you manage to achieve stability in this method after ten to twenty minutes of practice, you may wish to switch over to one of the other two methods given above. These methods may be practiced in a single sitting in the order that they are presented here, or in separate sittings.