In Chi Kung philosophy the breath is one of the tools, or a banana, for capturing the Monkey mind, or emotional mind. Capturing the emotional mind is referred to as Seizing the Monkey (lecture at Dana Farber about the monkey and the horse mind, 6 minutes).
For some people, sitting, lengthening the spine, breathing deep and emptying the mind is easier than for others.
If you find you are having a hard time emptying your mind by using only your quiet breath, I suggest you use a trick in the beginning to help capture the Monkey Mind.
After a few weeks of practicing with one of the tricks (enjoy the links below) the next challenge is to sit still in total quiet with no external or internal distractions using only your quiet breath to empty the mind.
Sitting in silence with water breath is harder because the monkey mind is more active when it is quiet.
Methods for capturing the Monkey Mind
Common methods for capturing the Monkey Mind are external sounds such as music, the sound of bells, or tibetan bowls.
Others prefer sounds from nature, such as calming waves, a running river or gentle rain.
For some, internal sounds work the best, like repeating a word or mantra: here is one for wealth!
(Of course, these sounds can be done vocally or mentally)
Engaging in prayer is another great tool for reaching the place of Thoughts with No Thoughts, an empty mind or meditation.
Enjoy some of my favorites! Christian, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Gregorian.
Other methods are focusing on external visual objects - still ones or moving ones - when doing this exercise.
You can also find a page full of meditation practices on my start-up company CWellness with Jeff Sirlin
(You might need to create a free log-in to gain access).
For those of you who want to try doing this exercise while using an external moving visualization, the flame of a candle is a great visualization. It is used for both health and martial arts.
Candle Watching Meditation
In the Chinese martial arts I have been learning and practicing over the last 40 years there is traditional meditation training for the purpose of predicting or reading your opponents’ movements. To achieve this skill you can watch the smoke rising from incense or you can look at the flickering flame of a candle. I invite you to do it together with me.
Here is a link of me doing candle watching meditation for 3 minutes.