Focus Meditation #3: Breath Focus Meditation
How to Subtitle Your Breath for Added Support
The purpose of a breath focus meditation is to use a tool you already have with you as your object of focus. You simply pay attention to each exhale (or inhale if you prefer) as it happens. The thing is that sometimes your breath may be almost too light to track, or the volume of the voice is so loud that focusing on your breath seems impossible.
In these cases, it may be skillful to use the practice of labeling your breath. As you breath in, you silently say "in" or "rising." As you exhale, you silently say "out," or "falling." It winds up like this: "In, out, in, out..." over and over. When you use this technique, you want the label to be more like a subtitle in a movie - a notation - rather than a headline or banner. The point isn't to focus on the words - the point is to help you track your breath and find some balance.
Think of the subtitles as training wheels. Use them when you need a little extra help, and take them off when you are ready to balance your attention on just your breath!
The following meditation tracks are identical, except that the second track has a longer period of silence.