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Breathing from your belly, ducking under your thoughts

Dear Integral Meditators,

Effective meditation can often be based around a simple technique. In the article below I describe one practice that has delivered enduring value for me over the days, months and years. Enjoy trying it out!

For those in Singapore, a heads up for the Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat on the 16th December!

In  the spirit of breathing from your center,



Breathing from your belly, ducking under your thoughts

The meditation I describe below is one I originally picked up from the Qi Gong tradition. You can find variations of in Buddhism and Zen. It involves focusing attention on and breathing from your belly area, (or lower ‘dan tien’/’energy field’ as they call it in Qi gong). This meditation form is particularly useful as:

  • A way of “ducking under” excessive mental or emotional turbulence in our mind, as, physiologically speaking the energy centres that hold our ‘thinking’ energy are above the solar plexus, in the heart and head
  • A way of relaxing our nervous system
  • Creating a regenerative space where the energy of our body-mind can gradually come back into balance and equilibrium

Fifteen minutes or so if this meditation a day is a really good practise for calming yourself in a way that feels very grounded, solid and stable. One might almost say it is a very “physicalizing” meditation! So here it is:

Stage 1 – Bringing your attention down to your belly: Sitting with a comfortably straight back, either cross legged or on a chair (lying down is also ok!), sink your centre of gravity down in your body, from the chest area to the belly. Breathing naturally, place attention upon the rising and falling of your belly as you breathe. Focusing specifically on the abdomen 1-2inches beneath the belly button is ideal. If initially you have trouble sensing the movement, place your hands over your belly, so that you can feel the rising and falling of your belly beneath your palms.

Stage 2 – Locating the lower dan-tien in the belly: Now, go inside your belly. See a soft, luminous ball of light in the center of your lower belly area, about the size of a golf ball. It is at the level 1-2 inches beneath your belly button, but in the center of your abdomen. If you don’t ‘see’ it clearly, try and simply ‘feel’ the ball. Not everyone is visually oriented, and that’s fine. For a few minutes, as you breathe in focus your attention on the ball in your lower belly. See the ball expanding to about the size of a large grapefruit as you inhale, as you exhale see it shrinking back to the size of a golf ball. Do this for a few minutes.

Stage 3 – Relaxing and focusing awareness in the belly: Having found the location of the energy ball in your belly, the rest of the meditation is spent simply relaxing and trying to gently focus your attention and awareness in this part of your body, and letting go of excess conceptual thoughts and mental activity.
If you like you can change the visualization slightly, as an alternative to the expanding and contracting explained in stage 2: Feel light and energy flowing into the belly area and ball of light as you breathe in, and then flowing out of the ball to the surface of your body as you breathe out.
When you feel as if your mind and body have settled down, the main emphasis should simply to enjoy the state of non-conceptuality and relaxation that arise from focusing your awareness in the lower belly area. Allow your mind and body to find regeneration and healing within this deep, calm space.

Enjoy your belly breathing!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

Saturday December 16th, 2-5pm –  Integral meditation & mindful walking deep dive half day retreat

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