Guided Meditations

Mindful Sitting

I.

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.                                                                             In

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.                                                                       Out

Breathing in, I notice that my in-breath is deep.                                                            Deep

Breathing out, I notice that my out-breath goes slowly.                                             Slow

Breathing in, I calm my whole body.                                                                                  Calm

Breathing out, I feel ease.                                                                                                         Ease

Breathing in, I smile (at everything – including my worries!)                                   Smile

Breathing out, I release (everything including all tension)                                       Release

Breathing in, I am aware that I am dwelling in the present moment.                    Present moment

Breathing out, I know this is a moment of happiness, a wonderful moment.     Wonderful moment

II.

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.                                                                             In

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.                                                                       Out

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.                                                                               Flower

Breathing out, I feel fresh.                                                                                                     Fresh

Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.                                                                        Mountain

Breathing out, I feel solid.                                                                                                     Solid

Breathing in, I see myself as still water.                                                                           Still water

Breathing out, I reflect things as they truly are.                                                          Reflecting

Breathing in, I see myself as space.                                                                                   Space

Breathing out, I feel free.                                                                                                       Free

III. Full Awareness of Breathing Meditation

16 Exercises for Cultivating Mindfulness of the Body, Feelings, Mind and Objects of the Mind

The Four Preliminary Exercises (Observing the body)

1. Breathing in, I know I am breathing in, “Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.”

2. “Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breathe. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out a long breath.
This will vary depending on what we notice about our breathing – our breath can be long, short, deep, easy, uneasy, etc. We simply notice the characteristics of our breath.

3. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I smile to my whole body.”
We become aware of different parts of our body, the different elements of which our body is composed of (air, water, heat, minerals), the positions of our body – whether we are sitting, walking, lying down, washing dishes, etc and the process of change occurring in our body. For instance, we can be aware of our feet, calves, knees, thighs, hips, back, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, throat, face, head, hair, brain and so on.

4. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I calm the activities of my whole body.”
We can invite all the cells in our body to participate in this exercise. We can be as specific or as general as we want. For example, we can say, “Breathing in, I am aware of my brain. Breathing out, I calm the activities of my brain.”

The Second Four Exercises (Observing our feelings)

5. Breathing in I feel joyful. Breathing out, I feel joyful.”

6. Breathing in, I feel happy. Breathing out, I feel happy.”

7. Breathing in, I am aware of feelings (pleasant, unpleasant & neutral). Breathing out, I am aware of my feelings.”

We become aware of the arising, presence and fading of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral (functional) feelings. We also observe their psychological, physiological and physical roots and the impacts of our feelings on our mind and body.

8. Breathing in, I calm my feelings. Breathing out, I calm my feelings.”

The Next Four Exercises (Observing our mind)

9. Breathing in, I am aware of my mind. Breathing out, I am aware of my mind.”

We become aware of what our mind is doing, for e.g. paying attention, observing, distracted, being perceptive, determined, concentrating, etc. We observe these in the spirit of non-duality, recognizing that there is no separation between the subject and object of observation.

10. “Breathing in, I make my mind happy. Breathing out, I make my mind happy.”

We recognize mental formations in us that have the capacity to make us feel happy and we ‘water’ these through our observation – mental formations such as love, compassion, joy, inclusiveness, tranquility, freedom.

11. Breathing in, I concentrate my mind. Breathing out, I concentrate my mind.”

We recognize that the energy of concentration is present in us.

12. Breathing in, I calm my mind. Breathing out, I calm my mind.”

The Final Four Exercises (Observing the objects of the mind)

13. Breathing in, I observe the impermanent nature of all objects. Breathing out, I observe the impermanent nature of all objects.”

We observe the impermanent nature of all objects that we are aware of through our senses including concepts, ideologies, beliefs, etc.

14. “Breathing in, I let go of all objects. Breathing out, I let go of all objects.”

We let go of our concepts, our perceptions, everything.

15. “Breathing in, I observe the disappearance of desire. Breathing out, I observe the disappearance of desire.”

We are aware of our attachment to objects including our ideas, concepts disappearing.

16. “Breathing in, I observe emptiness. Breathing out, I observe emptiness.”

We are aware of the state of being of no birth and no death, no coming and no coming, etc, i.e. the absence of all views.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Breathe! You are alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, (Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 1988).

Thich Nhat Hanh, Transformation & Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, (Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 1990).

Mindful Walking

I have arrived (in-breaths) – I am home (out-breaths)

In the here (in-breaths) – In the now (out-breaths)

I am solid (in-breaths) – I am free (out-breaths)

In the ultimate (in-breaths) – I dwell (out-breaths)

The Four Preliminary Exercises (Observing the body)

1. Breathing in, I know I am breathing in, “Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.”

2. “Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breathe. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out a long breath.
This will vary depending on what we notice about our breathing – our breath can be long, short, deep, easy, uneasy, etc. We simply notice the characteristics of our breath.

3. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I smile to my whole body.”
We become aware of different parts of our body, the different elements of which our body is composed of (air, water, heat, minerals), the positions of our body – whether we are sitting, walking, lying down, washing dishes, etc and the process of change occurring in our body. For instance, we can be aware of our feet, calves, knees, thighs, hips, back, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, throat, face, head, hair, brain and so on.

4. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I calm the activities of my whole body.”
We can invite all the cells in our body to participate in this exercise. We can be as specific or as general as we want. For example, we can say, “Breathing in, I am aware of my brain. Breathing out, I calm the activities of my brain.”

The Second Four Exercises (Observing our feelings)

5. Breathing in I feel joyful. Breathing out, I feel joyful.”

6. Breathing in, I feel happy. Breathing out, I feel happy.”

7. Breathing in, I am aware of feelings (pleasant, unpleasant & neutral). Breathing out, I am aware of my feelings.”

We become aware of the arising, presence and fading of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral (functional) feelings. We also observe their psychological, physiological and physical roots and the impacts of our feelings on our mind and body.

8. Breathing in, I calm my feelings. Breathing out, I calm my feelings.”

The Next Four Exercises (Observing our mind)

9. Breathing in, I am aware of my mind. Breathing out, I am aware of my mind.”

We become aware of what our mind is doing, for e.g. paying attention, observing, distracted, being perceptive, determined, concentrating, etc. We observe these in the spirit of non-duality, recognizing that there is no separation between the subject and object of observation.

10. “Breathing in, I make my mind happy. Breathing out, I make my mind happy.”

We recognize mental formations in us that have the capacity to make us feel happy and we ‘water’ these through our observation – mental formations such as love, compassion, joy, inclusiveness, tranquility, freedom.

11. Breathing in, I concentrate my mind. Breathing out, I concentrate my mind.”

We recognize that the energy of concentration is present in us.

12. Breathing in, I calm my mind. Breathing out, I calm my mind.”

The Final Four Exercises (Observing the objects of the mind)

13. Breathing in, I observe the impermanent nature of all objects. Breathing out, I observe the impermanent nature of all objects.”

We observe the impermanent nature of all objects that we are aware of through our senses including concepts, ideologies, beliefs, etc.

14. “Breathing in, I let go of all objects. Breathing out, I let go of all objects.”

We let go of our concepts, our perceptions, everything.

15. “Breathing in, I observe the disappearance of desire. Breathing out, I observe the disappearance of desire.”

We are aware of our attachment to objects including our ideas, concepts disappearing.

16. “Breathing in, I observe emptiness. Breathing out, I observe emptiness.”

We are aware of the state of being of no birth and no death, no coming and no coming, etc, i.e. the absence of all views.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Breathe! You are alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, (Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 1988).

Thich Nhat Hanh, Transformation & Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, (Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 1990).

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