Cultivating breath awareness is the most essential part of learning to meditate. The more one hones attention to the breath, the more one discovers its nourishing richness.
In ancient texts, the word for breath, wind and spirit is the same: ruach, pronounced as roo’-akh. Originating from Hebrew, ruach sounds like the very thing it gives meaning to, one’s breathing cycle. Simply saying ruach slowly helps one to slow down and notice the phases of inhale on “roo’”, holding the breath in a slight pause, and then enjoying a leisurely exhale on “-akh”.
To learn how to pay attention to the breath, try these three simple steps:
- Breathe in for a count of seven
- Pause and hold for a count of four
- Release and relax while breathing out for a count of eight
Practice this counting process for five cycles at around the same time each day. Some people like to do this at the start of their day, others prefer to save this practice for the transition from work as they relax into the evening. Notice what time of day your body and mind calls for a bit of renewal, and create a two-minute break to practice your breath awareness.
In exploring embodied meditation practices that involve intricate movements with strengthening and stretching exercises, your flow will emerge as you learn to lead with your breath. As an activity becomes more strenuous, you can sustain proper form by focusing on the current of your breath.
To reach one’s highest potential in unifying mind, body and spirit, the approach to the exhalation phase of breathing is key. The secret is to allow yourself to linger in your exhale – take your leisure with breathing out and you will discover far more calming peacefulness and centeredness in your life.