As the days pass, you will have begun to practice your breathing and homed in on a quiet corner or two. You can now begin to extend your breathing practice. Once you settle into your corner, sit down in a comfortable, relaxed position. You can sit on cushions on the floor or sit upright in a chair. The important thing is to have your spine erect so that your breath will flow freely, naturally, and comfortably. Whether you choose the floor or a chair, it is a good idea to prop a small cushion under your buttocks so that you almost feel as though you’re tilting forward. This will straighten your spine, and as you get used to this position, it will feel more comfortable than normal sitting.
When you’re relaxed and comfortable, begin to concentrate on your breathing. As before, breathe slowly and deeply. Count each exhalation until you count ten breaths. Then begin again and count to ten. Continue—and continue. If it makes it easier to stay with the count, count each inhalation and each exhalation up to ten and then begin again. Each time you enter your quiet corner and practice this breathing exercise, lengthen the time you spend doing it. If you lose track of your count, simply return to one and begin again. If you find that your mind drifts and you are way beyond ten, simply stop and begin again.
Your mind will not want to cooperate at first. But as you practice, your mind will quit resisting and settle down into the breath.
You will gain immediate rewards from this practice. If you can sit and practice this breathing for ten, twenty, or thirty minutes, the rewards will multiply. You will achieve a calm that you never thought possible. The noise in your head, which was loud and overwhelming at first, will subside. You will leave your quiet corner a quieter person.
Facing Your Quiet Corner
Chances are that once you contemplate the idea of spending time quietly alone, you will feel some anxiety. It’s perfectly normal if accustomed to a fast-paced and constantly moving world to become disoriented when the movement stops. Even the thought of jumping out of the rat race can raise some fears. Our mind can be our own worst enemy.
The antidote for this is slow, deep breathing. Conscious breathing is an instant, magical cure and instills in us the courage to move forward. Its power to transform us and lessen our fear should convince us to never take anything for granted.
When anxiety takes hold of you as you contemplate facing your quiet corner, simply resort to concentrated breathing and you will be able to take your next step. Breathe, breathe, and breathe some more.