How Can I Focus On Breathing?

Notice your in-breaths and out-breaths ‘passively’. They may be short, long, deep or shallow and may change. Watch them like a person sitting on the beach who is watching the rising and falling waves in the sea.

Don’t try to breathe deeply or slowly. This is NOT Yoga based breathing. But it is OK for the breathing pattern to change by itself, over time. Exception is the ‘911 mode’, in which we impose a pattern.

Part I: Describes six basic modes of ‘Focusing on breathing’. Try each mode for a couple of minutes with eyes closed, except for the ‘staring mode’. After some practice, you can also practice these with eyes open.

Part II: Describes variations of  the above basic modes.  Skip them in the beginning. Try them after you get used to the basic modes.

Part I

Folding mode
Start with any one hand, say the left hand. Gently bend the little finger. During the in-breath, feel the coolness inside the nose. During the out-breath, silently repeat the number ‘one, one, one’. During the next in-breath, feel the coolness inside the nose. During the out-breath, silently repeat ‘two, two, two’. During the next in-breath, feel the coolness inside the nose. During the out-breath, silently repeat ‘three, three, three’. Release the little finger.

Repeat the same steps at the ring finger, middle finger, index finger and the thumb, bending one finger at a time and counting three breaths as shown above.

Now switch to the right hand and repeat the above steps at all its five fingers. Continue practicing, switching the hands. VIDEO is at (6)

Why repeat the number being counted ? See (1).

Tip mode
Start with any one hand, say the left hand. Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger. Breathe three times as explained above. Repeat the same, at each of the next 3 finger tips – ring, middle and index fingers. When you are at the thumb, place the tip of the index finger at the base of the thumb and breathe three times.

Now switch to the right hand and repeat the same steps.

Continue practicing switching the hands. Why repeat the number being counted ? See (1). 

Segment mode
Start with any one hand, say the left hand. Every finger has two cross lines, dividing it into three parts, called segments. Place the tip of the thumb at the top segment of the little finger. Breathe three times as explained under the ‘Folding mode’  Move the thumb to the middle segment and breathe three times. Move to the bottom segment and breathe three times.

Repeat the same steps at the next three fingers – ring, middle and index fingers. At the thumb, place the tip of the index finger on its segments and repeat the same steps.

Now switch to the other hand and repeat the steps.

Continue practicing switching the hands. Why repeat the number being counted ? See (1).

Counting mode
Don’t use fingers. Breathe three times, counting them silently, as explained under the ‘Folding mode’.

When you breathe out next time, restart counting from ‘one, one, one’. Every time, count the breaths only up to three. Continue practicing as long as you like.

Every time your mind wanders and you lose track of the breaths, quietly resume counting the breaths, starting from ‘one, one, one’. Why repeat the number being counted ? See (1).

Feeling mode
Don’t use fingers. Don’t count. During the in-breath, feel the coolness inside the nose. During the out-breath, feel the warm or neutral sensation.

You can also place a hand on your abdomen and focus on its slight outward movement as you breathe in and inward movement as you breathe out.

Staring mode
Keep your eyes open. Stare at a small but prominently visible spot, mark, object or part of an object at your eye level or below. Without diverting your eyes, practice any of the above four breathing modes.  More at (2)

911  Mode
This is active breathing , not passive breathing. Keep your eyes closed for better impact. Breathe in through the nose or mouth quickly. Keep your lips almost closed with just a small  opening like you are holding a straw between the lips.

Blow air through the lips. Focus on the sensation at the lips. The outgoing breath will be slow and long.  Repeat this as long as you need, to get quick relief from stress of any kind. More at (3)

Part II – Variations

We can develop our own variations of the above basic modes. These are some variations I use  – ‘Engaging the idle hand’, ‘Visualizing mode’ and ‘Dynamic modes’ . More at (4).

Training Children

Adults need to demonstrate the modes and practice along with them, for a few brief sessions. Introduce it to them as a fun activity. They readily absorb the technique.  Whenever they feel the need to comfort themselves, they use it as their own tool. More at (5).

(1) Why repeat the number being counted?
(2) Staring mode
(3) 911 mode
(4) Variations of the modes
(5) Training children
(6) VIDEO of Folding mode

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Parent page:  ‘LEVEL I – Focusing on breathing’

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