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Vipasanna Meditation – How to observe the breath?

I am starting with Vipassana meditation.
The basic technique is to put your attention to your nostrils and observe the breath going in and out.
What I have problems with, though, is that I can’t really let the breath “be by its own”. So every time I put attention to my nostrils I need to breathe consciously as compared to me breathing doing something else.
What can I do to let go of that conscious control?
Or do it simply need to practice putting yet more attention to my nostrils?
Is Vipassana possibly not suited for me? Should I instead rather try to focus on a different object like a candle?
Thank you


  1. Keep practicing. Eventually you’ll be able to watch your breath without interfering with it. Don’t try to force it. It is the opposite of striving. When you are relaxed enough, you’ll be able to observe your breath without controlling it. John Kabat-Zinn uses a metaphor for observing the breath. He says it is like approaching a wild animal that is sunning itself out in a field. Approach it slowly, gently, and with compassion.

  2. if your paying too much attention your not relaxed enough. you just want to be aware of breathing not totally conscious of it. it sounds like your trying too hard and by doing so your limiting yourself by your ego, your mind.
    just let go, imagine being in water trying to swim by thrashing about, we can’t, we drown. but if we let go and relax we find the water supports us.

  3. You don’t need to worry. Just be mindful of the experience you are actually having. If, when you attend to the breath, it feels like you “can’t let go of conscious control,” just notice that. Just experience what that is like.
    The practice of Vipassana mindfulness of the breath is not so much to make the breath a particular way. It is more to connect with the way it actually is. So, if for now you notice a sense of “control” as part of your experience of breathing, just notice that. Just notice what that is like.
    You can invite a kind of relaxation and simply let the breath “breathe itself” and maybe at some point that will be how it is — “breathing itself” without a conscious control or manipulation. But, again, if that is not what is happening right now, just notice what IS happening and rest your awareness in the way things are.
    Changes will come. And then just notice the change.


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