Taoist Meditation: Breath and Navel Meditation
Breath and Navel Meditation is the oldest meditation method on record in China as well as India, and 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.
- 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.
- 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 on 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 below. All three of these methods may be practiced in a single
sitting in the order that they are presented here, or in separate sittings.
Time: Twenty to thirty minutes, once or twice a day.
Next Topic: Master Han's Central Channel Meditation