This post explores how to witness your breath. By learning this, you can observe the mind with ease. This technique sets the foundation for letting go, which brings forth wisdom, health, and insight into your life.
What is breathing?
In short, breathing is when air moves in and out of your lungs. Understand this action and witness how it reflects the cycle of life. This observation acts as a pointer toward letting go and allowing your mind to balance.
The mind and breath exist to balance your entire life. To recognise this, learn how breathing ensures correct levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. This action is essential for your cells to carry out their tasks. Your brain works the same way, where it harmonises positive and negative movements. When you leave your brain and lungs to their own devices, they work with the body in a balanced way. These organs don’t need your conscious efforts. This truth points you to stop forcing your mind, breath, and body around. Once you leave them be, life’s intelligence brings forth insight and balance for your entire being.
The action of breathing helps you understand how thoughts have a beginning, middle, and end. Throughout life, you take 23000-24000 breaths each day. In the same fashion, your brain thinks thousands of thoughts per hour, day and minute with little effort. It’s not possible to control or manage so much activity by using force. For this reason, don’t analyse or try altering your thoughts, mind, or breath. Instead, allow them to happen without interference. This act of letting go lets your thoughts begin, run their course, then end at the right time.
The movement of breathing provides wisdom on how to handle everything in life. To realise this, watch your lungs inhale, then exhale. In a similar way, allow the thoughts in your mind to arrive and leave. This relaxed awareness allows for acceptance and wisdom to come forth. From here, your mind balances and you handle life with ease.
How do you practice watching the breath?
You practice watching the breath by being aware of the motion and feeling of breathing. This method develops the skill to be more aware of your mind. Once you realise this purpose, rigid routines for breath awareness are unnecessary. Despite this, those learning to awaken from their mind may find steady guidance helpful. Here are some pointers you may find useful when using the breath to connect with awareness.
Set aside a short amount of time each day to practice.
Practice being aware of the breath whenever you have free time. It doesn’t matter how long you do this exercise. Five to 15 minutes is ideal, although you’re welcome to adjust this to your schedule.
Tune out any distractions.
At first, close your eyes and tune out any surrounding distractions. This action helps to draw focus and attention inward. If the mind feels confused or uncomfortable, then leave your eyes open.
Witness the movement of your breath.
When you are ready, pay attention to breathing as one cycle. Do this by drawing focus to the breath’s motion of entering and leaving your body. Sense how the lungs, ribcage, and chest expand, then release. It may help to fixate on one point of the body, such as your belly or nostrils. This anchor helps you concentrate and provides a point of focus.
Don’t change the pace or length of the breath.
Let go of all methods to change the pace or length of your breath. Put aside the exercises that involve these actions. Instead, allow breathing to happen in its own rhythm, without strain.
Return attention to your breathing when the mind wanders.
Your thoughts will wander while doing this practice. When you notice this, return focus back to the breath. Note how you’re aware of the distracting thoughts. The goal of the practice is to gain this level of awareness.
Witness a pause at the start and end of each breath.
As you grow more aware while watching your breathing, witness a pause between the start and end of each breath. This space between breaths reflects the natural silence that is always present. By growing aware of this, your mind relaxes and unearths its suppressed energy. Soon, this pressure releases, the mind becomes stable, and you tune with your natural space.
How does being aware of breathing help your mind?
The act of being aware of breathing helps you develop distance from your thoughts. This expanse allows your mind’s contents to serve their purpose, then pass at the correct time. From this point, you enjoy a wise, peaceful life.
Conscious breathing teaches you how to be more alert to the mind. As a result, its thoughts hold less power, and you sense longer spaces around and between them. These pauses provide a taste of freedom from your mind. With this intention, they act as gateways to the expanse from where thoughts arise. Each form of life stems from this same open region. By growing more mindful of the breath, you connect with this space. In doing so, you realise that you’re one with the cosmos and everything else. With this understanding, thoughts lose their power. Here, mental pain, grief, doubt and fear leave as the mind grows more alert.
As you witness how breathing moves in your body, see how it connects to the mind. This awareness allows your entire being to settle. When the breath becomes too fast and heavy over a long period, it affects your body’s health. Such dynamics are obvious in the mind when its thoughts become too dense. In the long term, this energy blocks your body’s natural shift toward balance. Pay attention to how the breath, mind, and body move in your space. When you’re aware of how these connect, their actions don’t affect you as much. In effect, your entire being settles.
It’s easy to watch your mind after you have practised breath awareness. In this alert state, you can allow the brain’s contents to arise, follow their purpose, and leave. This openness flows through your life and allows for a wise, peaceful existence.
How does following your breath help your physical health?
The practice of following the breath improves physical health by bringing you more in touch with your body. This awareness provides the insights to enhance your life and wellbeing.
The breath’s length connects to your state of mind. To show this, picture a conductor leading an orchestra at a concert. Here, the conductor is your breath, and each musician mimics the mind’s thoughts. In a show, the conductor often leads the orchestra to slow and lengthen their notes. In the same manner, spend some time extending and slowing your breaths pace. Now watch how the mind follows. This act creates a higher intake of oxygen, which calms your brain and body. Exercises like this give short-term relief from stress, depression, and anxiety. They also show how the breath connects with your mind.
Practices that aim to control or change the length of your breaths only help the body for a short time. For this reason, you shouldn’t use them to avoid your mind or the root cause of problems. For example, breathing exercises help reduce the symptoms of high blood pressure for a brief period. Despite this, they don’t address most of its causes, such as diet and lifestyle.
Witness the breath and you soon align with your thoughts and body. Once you reach this point of awareness, it’s time to stop trying to follow the breath. The practice has now served its purpose, and you can let the mind settle. From here, ideas arise about how to improve your health and overall life. In this wise state, you change your diet, mindset, and lifestyle from a place of wisdom. Your health then improves in every sense. On balance, as your awareness grows, the body and mind align. This alignment leads to insights that enhance your health and wellbeing.
Should you watch the breath to silence your mind?
You shouldn’t practice following the breath to silence the mind or avoid thinking. Such a motive comes from fear towards your thoughts and emotions. Realise this and learn that following the breath teaches you how to grow aware of the mind – not avoid it. This knowledge ensures that you don’t become addicted to methods that suppress the mind or its thoughts.
People with painful or disturbing thoughts often turn to techniques for relief. Don’t fall into this trap. Remember, any effort you make to avoid fear and pain strengthens their place. You cannot resolve troubles by escape, or by using breathing as an anchor. When a troubling emotion arises, do you turn to focus on the breath? What is your motive behind this action? If you fear the mind, note this feeling and allow it to run its course. Here, you’re facing fear. By allowing such emotions this way, they dissolve. You don’t have to turn to techniques for relief.
The intent to observe the breath should be to exercise your awareness and move toward a state of allowing. Don’t use it as a technique to silence thoughts. Before, during, and after you follow your breath, the mind will wander. You also witness past fears and issues arise from deep within your being. Don’t worry when this happens. Understand that the brain’s nature is to think and express itself. Don’t aim to stop this motion. Instead, allow thoughts to happen and accept them as you do with the breath. In time, you can stop trying to stay alert this way. This relaxation enables the wisdom of awareness to come forth.
Understand the motives behind following your breath and you free yourself from addiction to such routines. Here, you no longer suppress the mind’s thoughts and they settle by themselves.
How does conscious breathing create peace?
Conscious breathing creates peace by allowing you to grow more alert. It’s one way to switch on the awareness that lies dormant within you. Once this energy awakens, it forms a steadiness where thoughts and emotions cannot take over your inner space. As you connect with this field, it’s possible to allow discomfort while the mind releases its past baggage.
As the mind releases its baggage, unwanted thoughts come up for you to allow their release. If such thoughts arise, can you let them be? Without trying to avoid or hold distance from them? As a mature person, you have the wisdom to face and dissolve fears or past troubles. The answers to your problems soon follow as the mind relaxes. This surrender lets the wisdom of life flow through your body. You then go beyond your mind’s limits, and a journey of inner peace begins. Conscious breathing is a way to start this course by activating your inner awareness.