It’s normal for the mind to stray away and wander off. And during meditation, it’s especially common for the mind to jump from one thought to the next. One tip to catch your thoughts is to follow the breath.
Below is a meditation to help you anchor yourself to your breath, and restore focus and ease in your body and mind.
For this meditation, you may begin lying down. Here, lie down as comfortably as you like, perhaps spreading your limbs across your mat or your bed like a snow angel. You may support yourself with a rolled up blanket underneath your calves, or with a pillow underneath the back of your head.
Scan the body from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Next, feel the weight of your body against your mat or your bed, and feel the surface underneath you. Allow the body to soften and melt, mindfully letting go of any tension.
Next, connect with your breath. You may take one hand on your belly, and another hand on your chest. You can also take both hands on your belly. This will help you feel your breath more concretely, and allow you to truly get in touch with your inhalations and your exhalations.
Notice where you’re breathing from. Are you breathing more through the belly? Or more through the chest? Or a little bit of both? There’s no right or wrong. Simply observe.
Then, let your breath be a little slower and deeper. Feel a deeper expansion across your belly, ribcage, and chest when you inhale. Feel yourself deflate and relax when you exhale. How is your breath now?
See if the mind has started to wander off. Then, gently coax your attention back to your breath. Never mind whatever thoughts your mind was strayed off to–even if these are negative thought patterns. Do not judge. Just follow the breath once again.
Everytime you catch your thoughts, allow yourself to come back to what is present: your breath. Consider your breath as footprints in the sand that lead you to calmer waters, or perhaps a path that leads you to a clearing in the woods. Now, trust your breath.
Stay here for a few minutes, before ending your meditation.
First published in 2020; updated in January 2022