Instructions for Awareness of Breath (Sitting) Meditation

Steven Rosenzweig, MD


Mindfulness means being awake and really paying attention to whatever is happening right now. By practicing watching the breath, we are growing stronger in our ability to stay awake and present to our immediate experience, rather than getting lost in thoughts about the past or future.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a way that is calm, and not automatically reacting to our experience, and without struggling to immediately change things. We learn how to be more patient, and to relax into however things are.

To practice awareness of breath meditation, arrange to spend time in a quiet place where you will be free from interruptions. Turn off your cell phone!

We generally practice this in a sitting position, although awareness of breath meditation can also be practiced lying or even standing. Our posture should support the experience of relaxed wakefulness. We want to keep the back upright, and the body relaxed and comfortable. Sitting in a straight-backed chair is helpful. Feel free to use cushions or a rolled blanket to support your back and your posture.

It is better to sit in a way that allows the pelvis to tilt slightly forward – try sitting forward on the seat of the chair. If sitting on the floor, use a cushion that slightly elevates the buttocks, allowing the pelvis to tilt. You should support your knees with additional pillows or blankets, and use a pillow or two to support your back if you wish.