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Buddhism in a Nutshell. Narada Mahathera
Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka. 1982, 1995.


Concentration on Respiration
Anapana Sati


Anapana Sati is mindfulness on respiration. Ana means inhalation and Apana exhalation.

Concentration on the breathing process leads to one-pointedness of the mind and ultimately to Insight which enables one to attain Sainthood or Arhatship.

The Buddha also practiced concentration on respiration before He attained Enlightenment.

This harmless concentration may be practiced by any person irrespective of religious beliefs.

Adopting a convenient posture, keep the body erect. Place the right hand over the left hand. Eyes may be closed or half-closed.

Easterners generally sit cross-legged with the body erect. They sit placing the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. This is the full position. Sometimes they adopt the half position, that is by simply placing the right foot on the left thigh or the left foot on the right thigh.

When the triangular position is assumed the whole body is well-balanced.

Those who find the cross-legged posture too difficult may sit comfortably in a chair or any other support sufficiently high to rest the legs on the ground.

It is of no importance which posture one may adopt provided the position is easy and relaxed.

Head should not be drooping. Neck should be straightened so that the nose may be in a perpendicular line with the navel.

Buddhas usually adopt the full lotus position. They sit with half closed eyes looking not more than a distance of three and half feet.

Before the practice, bad air from the lungs should be breathed out slowly through the mouth and then the mouth should be closed.

Now inhale through the nostrils normally, without strain, without force. Mentally count one. Exhale and count two. Inhale and count three. Count up to ten constantly concentrating on the breathing process without thinking of anything else. While doing so one's mind may wander. But one need not be discouraged. Gradually one may increase the number of series -- say five series of ten.

Later, one may inhale and pause for a moment, concentrating merely on inhalation without counting. Exhale and pause for a moment. Thus inhale and exhale concentrating on respiration. Some prefer counting as it aide concentration while others prefer not to count. What is essential is concentration and not counting, which is secondary.

When one practices this concentration one feels very peaceful, light in mind and body. After practicing for a certain period a day might come when one may realize that this so-called body is supported by mere breath and that body perishes when breathing ceases. One fully realizes impermanence. Where there is change there cannot be a permanent entity or an immortal soul. Insight can then be developed to attain Arhatship.

It is clear that the object of this concentration on respiration is not merely to gain one-pointedness but also to cultivate Insight to obtain deliverance from suffering.

In some discourses this simple and harmless method of respiration is described as follows:

"Mindfully he inhales; mindfully he exhales.

1. When making a long inhalation he knows: 'I make a long inhalation'; when making a long exhalation he knows; 'I make a long exhalation'.

2. When making a short inhalation he knows: ' I make a short inhalation'; when making a short exhalation he knows: 'I make a short exhalation'.

3. Clearly perceiving the entire breathing process (i.e., the beginning, middle and end), 'I will inhale; thus he trains himself; clearly perceiving the entire breathing process, 'I will exhale'; thus he trains himself.

4. Calming the respiration, 'I will inhale'; thus he trains himself; calming the respirations, 'I will exhale'; thus he trains himself. "



Be still and peaceful.

Recite three times -- Nammo Buddhaya -- (Honor to the Buddha)

Recite three times -- Araham -- (The Pure One)


Buddham saranam gacchami -- (I go to the Buddha for refuge) Dhamman saranam gacchami -- (I go to the Dhamma for refuge) Sangham saranam gacchami -- (I go to the Sangha for refuge) [*]

* [This introductory part may be omitted by non-Buddhists.]

Think thus:

My mind is temporarily pure, free from all impurities; free from lust, hatred and ignorance; free from all evil thoughts

My mind is pure and clean. Like a polished mirror is my stainless mind.

As a clean and empty vessel is filled with pure water I now fill my clean heart and pure mind with peaceful and sublime thoughts of boundless loving-kindness over-flowing compassion, sympathetic joy and perfect equanimity.

I have now washed my mind and heart of anger, ill will, cruelty, violence, jealousy, envy, passion and aversion.

Think ten times:

May I [*] be well and happy! May I be free from suffering, disease, grief, worry and anger! May I be strong, self-confident, healthy and peaceful!

*[Here the term "I" is used in a conventional sense.]

Think thus:

Now I charge every particle of my system, from head to foot, with thoughts of boundless loving-kindness and compassion. I am the embodiment of loving-kindness and compassion. My whole body is saturated with loving-kindness and compassion. I am a stronghold, a fortress of loving-kindness and compassion. I am nothing but loving-kindness and compassion. I have sublimated myself, elevated myself, ennobled myself.

Think ten times:

May I be well and happy! May I be free from suffering, disease, grief, worry and anger! May I be strong, self-confident, healthy and peaceful!


Mentally I create an aura of loving-kindness around me. By means of this aura, I cut off all negative thoughts, hostile vibrations. I am not affected by the evil vibrations of others. I return good for evil, loving-kindness for anger, compassion for cruelty, sympathetic joy for jealously. I am peaceful and well-balanced in mind. Now I am a fortress of loving- kindness, a stronghold of morality.

What I have gained I now give unto others.

Think of all your near and dear ones at home, individually or collectively, and fill them with thoughts of loving-kindness and wish them peace and happiness, repeating May all beings be well and happy! ... Then think of all seen and unseen beings, living near and far, men, women, animals and all living beings, in the East, West, North, South, above and below, and radiate boundless loving-kindness, without any enmity or obstruction, towards all, irrespective of class, creed, colour or sex.

Think that all are your brothers and sisters, fellow-beings in the ocean of life. You identify with all. You are one with all.

Repeat ten times, "May all beings be well and happy," and wish them all peace and happiness.

In the course of your daily life try to translate your thoughts into action as occasion demands.



1. May I be generous and helpful! (Dana -- Generosity)

2. May I be well-disciplined and refined in manners! May I be pure and clean in all my dealings! May my thoughts, words and deeds be pure! (Sila -- Morality)

3. May I not be selfish and self-possessive but selfless and disinterested! May I be able to sacrifice my pleasure for the sake of others! (Nekkhamma -- Renunciation)

4. May I be wise and be able to see things as they truly are! May I see the light of Truth and lead others from darkness to light! May I be enlightened and be able to enlighten others! May I be able to give the benefit of my knowledge to others! (Panna -- Wisdom)

5. May I be energetic, vigorous and persevering! May I strive diligently until I achieve my goal! May I be fearless in facing dangers and courageously surmount all obstacles! May I be able to serve others to the best of my ability! (Viriya -- Energy)

6. May I be ever patient! May I be able to bear and forbear the wrongs of others! May I ever be tolerant and see the good and beautiful in all! (Khanti -- Patience)

7. May I ever be truthful and honest! May I not hide the truth to be polite! May I never swerve from the path of Truth! (Sacca -- Truthfulness)

8. May I be firm and resolute and have an iron will! May I be soft as a flower and firm as a rock! May I ever be high-principled! (Adhitthana -- Determination)

9. May I ever be kind, friendly and compassionate! May I be able to regard all as my brothers and sisters and be one with all! (Metta -- Loving-kindness)

10. May I ever be calm, serene, unruffled and peaceful! May I gain a balanced mind! May I have perfect equanimity! (Upekkha -- Equanimity)

May I serve to be perfect!

May I be perfect to serve!

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