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Focusing on the breath

15 Nov 2016

225 words

During mindfulness meditation, you’re supposed to focus on your breath. If you encounter any stray thoughts, you’re instructed to notice them and let them pass by, always returning your focus to the breath. I often find it difficult to stay focused on my breath for an extended length of time; it’s easy to start focusing on the breath, but after a short while, I’ll notice I’ve drifted off to thinking about something completely different.

I recently realized that, since it’s easy to shift my focus instead of holding it, it is much easier to focus on one breath at a time. Then, when the breath is over, instead of trying to keep focused, I’d repeat the mental motion of shifting my focus to the breath – again, only for a single breath. This way, I’ve been able to stay focused on my breathing for many minutes without drifting off into other thoughts.

So, in general, this is good, but it also feels like cheating since I’m not actually holding the focus; instead I’m doing a new mental motion after every single breath, which might put me in a less calm state than I’d be in if I could just learn to stay focused. I’d be curious to hear from people who have more experience with meditation, whether this is a bad way of doing things.