Meditating Man

The greatest help to spiritual life is meditation. In meditation we divest ourselves of all material conditions and feel our divine nature. We do not depend upon any external help in meditation. - Swami Vivekananda

How to Meditate

The 100 Breaths Meditation System incorporates a variety of techniques that are designed for different purposes. The fundamental technique is referred to as Basic Breathing Meditation or BBM. BBM is a very simple yet powerful method that is really all you ever need to know. The advanced techniques taught in the 100 Breaths book are wonderful for accomplishing specific goals, but the fundamental building block of all advanced techniques is BBM. Therefore, I encourage you to use this website to understand BBM and start with it.

It is suggested that you review the What, Why, When and Where pages before you read this page. That will give you prerequisite information before studying the technique itself. Let's start with a listing of the basic steps. Each step is further described below. I encourage you to read the detailed descriptions to get the nuance associated with each step.

  1. Stretch Your Body
  2. Sit Comfortably and Attain the Correct Posture
  3. Breath Deeply
  4. Count Your Breaths up to 100
  5. Manage Your Thoughts

Stretch Your Body

Before you meditate, take about 5 minutes to stretch your body. Focus on all of the large muscle groups and give them a 20 or 30-second stretch:

  1. Start by stretching your arms and hands above your head as far as you can. Your hands should be bent back 90 degrees with your palms facing the sky. Feel your spine lengthen. While holding this position, slowly twist your torso.

  2. Touch your toes to stretch out your back.

  3. Extend your arms in front of you with palms facing up. Slowly bring your straight arms back so that they remain parallel to the floor extended to the sides with palms facing up. Stretch your arms back as far as they will go to open up your chest.

  4. Get on your knees with the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Sit back, touching your buttocks to the back of your heels to stretch the muscles in your legs.

  5. Sit on your buttocks with the soles of your feet touching each other. Lean forward placing your forearms on your knees. Use your weight to press your knees towards the floor and open up your hips and pelvis.

Sit Comfortably and Attain the Correct Posture

  1. Sit in a position that you find most comfortable. It can be in a chair or on the floor. If you sit on the floor, you should sit on a mat or cushion(s). Many people find that the most comfortable option is to use a 6 to 8-inch thick cushion (firm), which raises the buttocks but allows the crossed legs to drop down slightly below. Your legs may be crossed, or you may sit in the half-lotus or full-lotus position. In the full lotus position, the legs are crossed, and the backs of the feet are wedged on top of the thighs. The half lotus has only one foot in this position. You must be very limber to use the lotus postures. I sit cross-legged or use a chair.

  2. The most important thing is to keep your spine straight and to have the correct posture. The pelvis should be tucked under. When you do this correctly, it will feel as if you are rotating the tailbone under the base of your body while simultaneously lifting the genital area.2. The most important thing is to keep your spine straight and to have the correct posture. The pelvis should be tucked under. When you do this correctly, it will feel as if you are rotating the tailbone under the base of your body while simultaneously lifting the genital area.

  3. Slightly round your lower back. This is the opposite of arcing or swaying your back.

  4. Slightly raise your chin to establish the curve in your neck.

  5. Close your eyes and direct the eyeballs downward as if focusing on a point about 2 feet in front of your navel.

  6. Place your hands on your lap or knees comfortably. Let your shoulders sag.

Breath Deeply

Your breathing should be deep and through your nose. Focus on a point about 3 inches below your navel. As you inhale, this point on your abdomen should expand outwards. It should move outwards several inches. As you exhale, this same point should move inwards towards your spine. Breathe at a speed that is comfortable for you but try not to think about it.

Count Your Breaths up to 100

Begin counting your breaths, starting at one and ending at 100. When you reach 100, you are finished with the session. The length of the session will obviously depend on your rate of breathing. Generally, most people start out faster, and their breath rate will slow as they relax. Most people start out between 8 and 12 breaths per minute. By the end of the session, this will slow to between 4 and 8 breaths per minute. Do not worry about your breathing rate. Just relax and let it slow down naturally. As you count each breath, focus your attention on the breath. Feel the air enter your nose and travel down into your abdomen. As you exhale, follow the breath from your abdomen, back up, and out through your nose. That's it. After you have reached 100, slowly open your eyes and take a minute or two to enjoy your relaxed state.

Manage Your Thoughts

100% of your awareness should be focused on your breathing. This does not mean thinking about the breath. Just be aware of it. Try NOT to think about anything. Just focus on your breath. This is all there is to it.

Now that I have given you these steps, let me tell you what will happen. You will start your meditation, counting from 1, and before you know it, you will be thinking about something. You may make it to 17, or 10, or only 5, but at some point, you will find that you are no longer counting breaths but thinking. Do not worry about this. It is normal. These thoughts are coming from your sub-consciousness, and everyone has them. When you become aware that you are no longer counting, acknowledge that you are thinking, end the thought and imagine it floating away. Resume counting from the last number that you remember. If you don't remember the last number, pick a number you think is close and resume from there. At first, you may find it frustrating to have a continuous stream of uncontrolled thoughts that interfere with your counting. Do not be frustrated. This is what we are working on. We are eliminating the thoughts and focusing on awareness.

It is OK to be aware of your breathing, it is fine to be aware of your body sensations, and it is fine to be aware of your immediate environment. Just don't think about them. More than likely, your thoughts that emerge will not be on your present awareness (breath, sensations, or environment) but will include mental image pictures or internal dialogs pertaining to remembering past events or planning the future. This is what thinking generally entails. It is normal. But in our meditation, we will gently eliminate these thoughts by acknowledging them, pushing them away, and then returning to our counting. This process of managing our thoughts and focusing on pure awareness brings us the benefits of meditation. Over time, you will find that your focus on awareness will make it much easier to stop the thoughts and that this state of consciousness will be profoundly relaxing and satisfying.