“Now I am placing my mind upon the breath.”
I read that sentence in a book recently, and I’ve found it to be a very helpful thing to say to myself as I begin a meditation session.
When you’re meditating in a group, there’s a certain “peer pressure” (for lack of a better term), where everyone agrees that (a) you’re there to meditate, (b) you’re going to start now, and (c) you’re going to stop in thirty minutes or so. But when you meditate by yourself there is no peer pressure, so if you hear an unexpected noise, or your mind starts wandering, well, it’s a lot easier to lose your focus when you’re on your own. That’s why I’ve come to like saying this sentence to myself. I say it when I start a meditation session, or any time I lose focus during the session.
When I say it at the beginning of a meditation session I usually add a time limit, so the entire phrase is something like, “Now I am placing my mind upon the breath, and I will keep it there for the next thirty minutes.” I might add, “After that my mind can wander around willy-nilly if it likes, but for the next thirty minutes it’s just me and my breath.” You can also substitute the word awareness for mind in that sentence, if you prefer.
FWIW, I don’t think I read that phrase in the book, Practicing the Jhanas, but I hand-wrote it in there on page 14, where they start to discuss how to meditate in their style of meditation. I mention this book because it’s my favorite mindfulness meditation book. It is one of the first books I’ve read that makes it very clear that there is a difference between (a) access concentration and (b) everything you can achieve access concentration.