The basic breathing meditation, which is the very first instruction from the Buddha explained in the Mahā Satipatthāna Sutta, is the foundation for cultivating inner peace through the practice of mindfulness.
1. Sit in a comfortable position, with your back straight. A chair is fine, or if you are able, on a meditation cushion. Let your hands rest comfortably on your lap, or in the traditional mudra the Buddha statues reflect, right palm on top of the left, with thumbs touching.
2. Set a timer on your phone, so you will not have to be distracted by "how much longer." Begin with a short sit, 5 minutes, and increase as you go.
3. Allow your body to settle, and assist it by taking a couple of deep, cleansing breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth.
4. Put your attention on the breath as it goes in and out of your body. Notice the rise and fall of the belly as the air goes into the bottom of the lungs. Do not control the breath. Let it be natural, and just notice how it is.
5. When you notice that your mind has wandered to thinking instead of observing the breath, gently bring it back to the breath.
Some Tips for Helping the Monkey Mind Quiet Down
1. Before you meditate, have a little chat with your mind. Tell it how much you appreciate all the hard work it does, and invite it to take a short vacation for the time of your meditation practice.
2. When you notice that the mind has wandered off, observe what it wandered off to, remind it about the vacation its taking, and then return to the breath.
3. Be patient with yourself. It may seem like "nothing is happening" but the more regularly you practice, the more you will notice changes in your daily life and your ability to remain calmer in stressful situations.
Additional Resources to Deepen Your Meditation Practice
Venerable Thubten Chodron was my first Buddhist teacher. Her website is an endlessly valuable resource for practice opportunities as well as study/learning opportunities.
This link will take you to several guided meditations she offers, including a short 5 minute one of this Breathing Meditation.
Exercise before and after you meditate
When we meditate, a great deal of energy flows through the physical body through the subtle energy channels of the bioplasmic (or energy) body. The subtle body includes the chakras and nadis or meridians.
If the chakras and meridians are clogged up, then sitting in meditation can be troublesome. Imagine trying to pour water down a clogged pipe; it will either go very slowly down, or it won't get very far, and is likely to bubble back up. The energies that flow through the body especially in meditation time are much like water flowing through our system. If the charkas and meridians and other energy channels of the body are clogged up, then the fresh energy (prana) coming in, will not be able to flow smoothly. This can make it hard to sit still, and it can also create issues after meditation practice.
Below is a set of very simple exercises that only take a few minutes to do. Doing these before you sit for meditation, and also doing them after to integrate the energy generated, will make your meditation practice more enjoyable, and you will feel more energetic afterwards. (Please note that these exercises are from Master Choa Kok Sui, the modern day founder of Pranic Healing.)
EXERCISES BEFORE & AFTER MEDITATION