How many times have you said that you wanted to start meditating but never followed through?
Or have you started a meditation routine, only to stop after a few days?
I’ve done both plenty of times.
Meditation is both the easiest habit to implement and the easiest habit to skip.
I always wanted to build a ritual of meditating as soon as I woke up every morning. But having a 15-20 minute meditation session hanging over my head, directly upon waking, was too daunting for me. Just the mere thought of it was too much for my lazy-half-asleep mind. So, like humans tend to do, I took the path of least resistance and skipped it most days.
Alas, before all hope was lost, I came up with a solution! (Does using “alas” make me sound sophisticated?)
In order to have a morning meditation practice that I could actually stick to, I developed the “21 Breath Salute.” And since the idea came to me, I’ve done it every single morning (#nodaysoff). It works for me because the idea of just taking 21 deep breaths isn’t intimidating at all. It’s easy to win that self-talk agreement (I know you do it too) when the task at hand seems easy. It plays out like, “Ok, I’m just gonna take 21 breaths and that’s it.”
You don’t have time to meditate? I bet you can spare 21 breaths at some point during your overly-dramatized busy day.
Don’t know how to meditate? Take 21 slow, deep breaths through your nose.
Stressed? Take 21 slow, deep breaths through your nose.
Feeling anxious or worried? Take 21 slow, deep breaths through your nose.
If you’re a human and you’re still alive, I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you know how to breathe.
The 21 Breath Salute is not time consuming at all and incredibly simple to do. It’s a meditation so accessible that everyone from those with no previous meditation experience to veteran meditators can perform it and reap the benefits.
How to do the 21 Breath Salute
1. Sit somewhere comfortable, with your spine straight (I sit on the edge of my bed).
2. Close your eyes.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose (for about 5 seconds). Inhale into your belly and let your belly expand as you inhale. Allow your back to straighten and your head to rise towards the sky.
4. Pause for a second at the end of your inhale.
5. Exhale through your nose (for about 5 seconds). Gently push the air of your belly. Allow your spine to slightly round forward and your head to move slightly downward.
6. Pause for a second at the end of your exhale.
7. Repeat for 21 breaths.
8. After 21 breaths, place both of your hands over your heart and say “thank you” 3 times, feeling the gratitude in your heart as you say this.
9. Jump back into the world renewed and refreshed.
Here’s a video demonstration of it:
The Finer Points
- To get the most out of this practice, do it before you do anything else in the morning. You’ll be in that magical state between sleep and waking, which is very conducive to mediation. I recommend sitting up so you don’t fall back asleep.
- Breathing through your nose is important. It warms the air before entering the lungs and filters air much more than breathing through the mouth. According to ancient Chinese and Indian practices (who seem to get most things right), breathing through the nose enables you to effectively process chi or prana (life force energy). This is why breathing through the nose (and especially deep breathing) is so invigorating; it builds life force energy as opposed to sapping it like shallow mouth breathing does.
- Don’t obsess over counting your breaths. If you lose count, just continue from the closest number you lost count at. It’s more about cultivating a state of stillness than breathing exactly 21 breaths.
- Observe your thoughts, without attachment. You are the sky and your thoughts are just clouds passing by. Allow them to pass. Objectively watch them without attachment or judgment. This state of peaceful watchfulness is what meditation is all about.
- 21 long, deep breaths will take about 3-5 minutes. You’ll get a feel for the ideal length of inhales and exhales for yourself as you do it. That’s why I say about 5 seconds. Some people’s breaths will be shorter and some will be longer. (Inhale for about 5 seconds + 1 second pause + exhale for about 5 seconds + 1 second pause = 12 seconds X 21 breaths = around 252 seconds total)
Often by the 8th or 9th breath, my mind is pretty clear, so it’s effective as well as being short.
The 21 breath salute will, at the very least, calm your mind, no matter who you are. And I get to a place of complete, peaceful stillness most times. It’s a beautiful thing to start the day with a clear, undistracted mind. What you do when you wake up sets the momentum for the rest of the day. So start from a place of joyful tranquility, centeredness and presence and witness your day transform.
Let’s do a little test to display the power of deep breathing…
Stop reading right now, close your eyes and take 3 long, deep breaths through your nose.
Feel the difference?
And the more you do, the more powerful breath-work becomes.
Try out the 21 Breath Salute ASAP. It’s such a small commitment with tremendous benefits, so why not?
Breathe into bliss.
– Stevie P