How meditation helps the mind

Q1. What is the mind?

The mind is what thinks! The mind can be helpful or harmful. If the mind has poor habits, it will have negative feelings towards others. If we make the effort to train the mind to improve itself, the thoughts will be more good-natured and loving towards others and ourselves.


Q2. How can the mind improve?

The mind can purify itself. A part of the mind is always observing what is happening and it can do the task of improving the mind. If it learns to observe things as they are, then it will understand that when there are negative thoughts or emotions, the mind is distressed. As this observing part of the mind becomes stronger, the reacting parts of the mind become weaker. The mind becomes more pure and the suffering is removed.


Q3. How can Anapana meditation help?

You observe the breath coming in and going out, without allowing any other thoughts. Usually when pleasant thoughts come in the mind, we want something, and with unpleasant thoughts, there is dislike. But when we are simply observing the breath, even for a few moments, there are no negativities polluting the mind. As these moments of purity become longer, the mind gradually becomes cleaner. It is initially at the surface level, but this prepares you to later practise Vipassana meditation, which will clean down to the roots.


Q4. How can we keep focused when the mind is full of thoughts?

That is exactly why we meditate. If the mind was already able to stay focused, you would not need to meditate. The mind keeps wandering – this is its habit. All kinds of thoughts come, mostly about the past or the future. The important thing is how soon we become aware the mind has wandered. Our job is to keep bringing the mind back to observing the breath.

Q5. What is pure breath?

Pure breath is when there is only breath. The moment something else, like a word or an image, is added to the breath it becomes impure. In Anapana meditation, we work only with pure breath, nothing else added.


Q6. What is natural breath?

The flow of breath that happens naturally, without making any extra effort. It may be soft or hard, slow or fast, but we never try to change how it is. The natural breath comes in and goes out without any effort on our part. Our job is just to observe it.


Q7. Why do we observe only the breath?

Because we want to know the truth about ourselves. By meditating with only pure breath, and nothing else, we start to experience this truth. Our breath is related to our body and also to our mind. We are observing the breath, and in the process, we begin to know our mind. When thoughts come in the mind, the mind reacts to these thoughts, and the breath changes. When we get angry or upset, we notice that the breath becomes harder and faster. As the mind calms down, the breath returns to normal. As we understand the mind through observing the breath, we are able to strengthen our good qualities.

Q8. What are the qualities of a pure mind?

A pure mind is full of love, goodwill and compassion for everyone. It does not generate anger, ill-will, hatred or greed. With a pure mind, our thoughts and actions are kind and helpful to ourselves and others.


The object of your concentration, of your awareness is your own breath. Which is a truth, the truth of your life. The breath is there. All the time it is with you, but you never care to be aware of it. For the first step of Vipassana learn how to be aware of your breath.

It is your natural breath, effortless, natural. The breath that comes in effortless naturally. The breath that comes in naturally. If it is long it is long, if it is short it is short. Just remain aware of the truth.