There are many forms of meditation. Within Buddhism, the main focus is developing and cultivating mindfulness and moment-by-moment awareness, achieved through training and practice. According to the Buddha, there are are four aspects to be cultivated called the Four Foundations of Mindfulness:

  • Awareness of the body
  • Awareness of feelings
  • Awareness of mental phenomena
  • Awareness of truths, of the laws of experience.

These Four Foundations, as part of meditation practice, are described in one of the Buddha’s earliest recorded teachings – the Anapanasati Sutra: The Discourse on Mindfulness of Breathing. The instructions given within this teaching provide practical directions to strengthen and deepen our meditation practice. Here is a summary of the training exercises to “be in the moment”:

Awareness of the Body

When breathing in long breaths, acknowledge that “I am breathing in long.”
When breathing in short breaths, acknowledge that “I am breathing in short.”

When breathing out long breaths, acknowledge that “I am breathing out long.”
When breathing in short breaths, acknowledge that “I am breathing in short.”

Breathing in, experience your whole body.
Breathing out, experience your whole body.

Breathing in, relax your body.
Breathing out, relax your body.

Awareness of Feelings

Breathing In, experience joy
Breathing out, experience joy.

Breathing in, experience pleasure.
Breathing out, experience pleasure.

Breathing in, experience your emotions.
Breathing out, experience your emotions.

Breathing in, calm your emotions.
Breathing out, calm your emotions.

Awareness of Mental Phenomena

Breathing In, experience your mind.
Breathing out, experience your mind.

Breathing in, please your mind.
Breathing out please your mind.

Breathing in, concentrate your mind.
Breathing out, concentrate your mind.

Breathing in, release the mind.
Breathing in, release the mind.

Awareness of Truths, of the Laws of Experience.

Breathing in, acknowledge impermanence.
Breathing out, acknowledge impermanence.

Breathing in, practice equanimity.
Breathing out, practice equanimity.

Breathing in, lose your desire to cling to things
Breathing out, lose your desire to cling to things.

Breathing in, let go of all things.
Breathing out, let go of all things.


Source Material

Jack Kornfield:
Theravada Vipassana Practice

Gil Fronsdal (Insight Meditation Centre)
Audio – Mindfulness of Breathing
PDF: Anapanasati Sutta Short version

Insight Mediation Centre
PDF – Right Mindfulness Study Guide

Access to Insight
The Way of Mindfulness