Ānāpānasati means “mindfulness of breathing” in Pali and it’s a meditation that was originally taught by Gautama Buddha in several sutras including the Ānāpānasati Sutta. A traditional method given by the Buddha is to go into the forest and sit beneath a tree and then to simply watch the breath, if the breath is long, to notice that the breath is long, if the breath is short, to notice that the breath is short. There are sixteen stages of anapanasati. Any anapanasati meditation session should progress through the stages in order, beginning at the first.
The first stage is a long breathing contemplation. You can think that it’s a very easy task to watch long breaths in and out, but the goal is to focus 100% only on your breathing so that you have no distracting thoughts. It’s a tricky job, even buddhist monks can spend years working on the first stage. Nevertheless, you can practice the fist six stages starting from your the very first meditation to get the faint scent of Nirvana upon completion of the stage four and also to feel rapture (stage 5) and bliss (stage 6).
What Benefits do I get? Why Anapanasati (the Mindfulness of Breathing) Meditation?
If you practice a lot and manage to complete successfully the first Tetrad (first four stages), you will attain the state of great calm which is called the State of Bliss Here-and-Now (or Absorption or Jhàna). This bliss here-and-now has the same taste as the bliss of Nirvana, differing from it only in being temporary and liable to change. Some people are content with this temporary bliss and never aspire to anything higher. Before the time of the Buddha there were people who mistook this state for Nirvana itself.
Short and Easy Instructions of Anapanasati (the Mindfulness of Breathing) Meditation
It’s difficult to find short and clear instructions of Anapanasati meditation. I tried a lot of books and all of them were extremely difficult to read and to understand. The best book I can recommend is “Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing)” by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, translated by Bhikkhu Nagasena, but it’s also very long and difficult to read. That’s why I wrote short and simple instructions for the first six stages of Anapanasati meditation which you will find in the category “Anapanasati“. You will also find short extracts from “Anapanasati” by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu under the short instructions for every stage.
Easy Books About Anapanasati (the Mindfulness of Breathing) Meditation
If you, nevertheless, want to read the source, buy this book (only a paperback!) by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: or alternatively you can read very easy book by Thich Nhat Hanh with 16 exercises of conscious breathing that were taught by the Buddha, together with commentaries and further exercises for practicing them every day and in any situation: