Oakville Zen Meditation

#432 Simple breathing technique Feb 26th 22

We are breathing around 20,000 to 25,000 times in 24h without knowing it or around 3.5 sec. from the beginning of inhale to the end of exhale. In fact, we are ignoring this function totally, and yet, besides being vital, breathing is also a miracle moment and a fantastic meditation-based spiritual practice used for the last 10,000 years or so by Oriental people. It is only recently that Westerners understand its spiritual value and adopted it for various therapeutic indications.

Focusing on our breathing in a mindful way during meditation has 6 main objectives:

1 Practicing mindfulness-based awareness and concentration.

2 Anchoring our restless mind with the ultimate goal of controlling it. Thoughts will always come and go. When one pops out, accept it then let it go by returning to your breathing as an anchor. There are many ways to anchor our restless mind, but breathing is, by far, the simplest and more effective tool to achieve mind control since one can apply it anytime during the day. No gimmicks are needed.

3 Being in the present moment.

4 Experiencing the connection and interaction between mind and body, so important in Zen

philosophy and practice.

5 Feeling the subtle energy floating inside ourselves ( called "qi" in Chinese and "ki" in Japanese).

6 Inducing mind-body stillness and relaxation.

There are many breathing techniques. Here I am presenting the simplest form used in Zen meditation practice.


First, you sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair. Then we keep your back erect without straining or overarching and keep your chin horizontal, parallel to the floor. Close your eyes. Rest your hands on your laps. Keep your tongue against the back of your front teeth to minimize salivation.

After settling down for 1- 2 min. to relax, you will try this simplest breathing technique ( they are many of them).


      Inhaling is an active motion consuming energy, requiring the diaphragm and intercostal muscles to contract.

      Inhale slowly thru your nose, mouth closed, for 2 to 3-4 seconds.

      The inflow air is cooler ~ 21C than your body temperature.~ 37C.

      This temp. gradient has a cooling effect affecting your body but also your brain which is in

close contact with the roof of the back of your nose.

Remember this: the cooling effect has a relaxing effect affecting the total body-mind.


Exhaling is a passive motion ( no energy consumed) during which all muscles are relaxing.

Exhale slowly thru your nose for 3-4 seconds. Your exhale should be a bit longer than your Inhale.

Using this frequency, you will breathe between 10 to 12 times/min.

If you have a hard time focusing on breathing you can count each cycle as follow:

At the end of the first exhale, mentally count 1. Repeat each cycle until you reach 10.

Then count down back to 1 and repeat this up/down counting as necessary.

Mindful-based breathing is not just limited while practicing formal meditation. You can apply it anytime during the day when the body-mind is getting agitated, and the need to "cool down" is required.

Your practice may include ~5 -6 min. of breathing as described above followed by 1 min. of intermittent short rest before re-starting again. You can repeat breathing-rest as many as you wish.

Short intermittent rest between breathing practices will help you greatly since breathing properly in a still posture is requiring significant effort and concentration, at least initially.