My meditation breathing exercises have been on and off in the last few years, and I have lately stumbled upon a couple of things that made it easier for me.

1. Use some background sound

I found it’s easier to stay focused when I put on some background sound. 2 that worked well for me lately were RainyMood and Abraham Hicks’ guided meditation music, with the words stripped out, but any soothing sounds should work. I find it’s especially useful when it guides towards a breathing rhythm of 5–6 breaths per minute.

2. Push on the exhale

Usually, the inhale is the intentional part when breathing, and the exhale is somewhat automatic, and, for that reason, somewhat shallow. Going through a couple of books on breathing (1, 2) lately, one recurring theme I found was the focus on the exhale part of the breathing. For me, because it’s somewhat an unusual way to breathe, it helps me keep my attention focused.

3. Breath “horizontally”

“Horizontal” breathing is a term I found in the second book, and it means to breathe in and out of your belly while keeping your shoulders still. Besides some health benefits for the internal organs, it helps me focus.

The measure of success

I’m guessing everyone has their own measure of success when it comes to breathing and meditation. To me, it’s when I can feel the forehead part of my scalp relaxing. I found that during focused work I have it tensed for the most part, and so releasing that tension is what I’m looking for.