Anapanasati

Introduction & Benefits of “Anapanasati”
Anapanasati is a meditation technique which was originally taught by the Buddha himself. It is still one of the core meditation practices and one of the most widely used methods in various traditional as well as modern meditation programs. It has been scientifically proved and successfully demonstrated that Anapanasati improves the ability to focus and executive functioning such as planning, decision making, initiating appropriate actions and inhibiting inappropriate actions. Anapanasati slows down the natural aging process of brain, and increases the density of the grey matter in the brain regions involved in regulating attention. Anapanasati provides numerous benefits to body, mind and the advancements in spiritual growth of its practitioners.

The Meaning of “Anapanasati”
"Anapanasati" is made up of two words:

  • Anapana: which means “breath” or “inhalation and exhalation”.
  • Sati: means “mindfulness”.

Anapanasati means “Mindfulness of Breathing”. Anapanasati means to feel the sensations caused by the movements of the breath in the body, as is practiced in the context of mindfulness. In Anapanasati, the main tool, the object of attention or focus is breath. We can also call it a “Breath Meditation”.

The Technique of “Anapanasati”
According to Buddha and his discourse in Anapanasati Sutta, the traditional method is to go into the forest, sit beneath a tree and simply observing the breath. The attention is centered on the breath, while breathing let done naturally. If the breath is long, to notice that the breath is long and if the breath is short, to notice that the breath is short. One may observe the breath going through one’s nose during inhalation, the pressure in the nostrils, and during exhalation the feeling of the breath moving along the upper lip. One can experience the whole body and tranquillizing of the bodily activities. When one becomes distracted from the breath, either by a thought or anything else, then one simply returns the attention back to the breath.

To simplify the technique in the beginning, new practitioners can chose to count each inhalation, “1, 2, 3...”, up to 10 and then begin from 1 again. If the count is lost then that means one was not present and one should start again from the beginning. Counting can be done for each exhalation also, but inhalation is easier. Anapanasati can be practiced while walking as well and one can even alternate seated and walking meditation.

The Experience of “Anapanasati”
Anapanasati is a training of mind to be focused, to be more sensitive and aware. Anapanasati calms the mind. While practicing this technique, one experiences bliss and rapture. In advance stages, one experiences the gladdening of mind, centering of mind in samadhi and the releasing of mind. Anapanasati leads to the removal of all defilements and brings the genuine realization of meditative states. The regular practice of Anapanasati ultimately leads to release from suffering, Enlightenment or Nirvana, the state reached by Buddha.

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