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. Once you understand this action, you see how it reflects the cycle of life. This observation acts as a pointer toward letting go and allowing your mind to balance.
Your 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 your thoughts 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 your 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, you don’t need a rigid routine for breath awareness. Despite this, those starting to awaken from their mind may find specific pointers helpful. Here are some guidelines that are useful to anyone interested in using the breath to connect with awareness.
Set aside a short amount of time each day to practice.
Practice being aware of your 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 you to draw focus and attention inward. If the mind feels confused or uncomfortable, then leave your eyes open.
Witness your breaths movement.
When you are ready, pay attention to breathing as one cycle. Do this by drawing focus to your 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 your 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 your breathing to happen in its own rhythm, without strain.
Return attention to your breathing when the mind wanders.
Your thoughts will wander while you do this practice. When you notice this, return your focus 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. As you attune to 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 your mind. As a result, your thoughts hold less power, and you sense longer spaces around and between them. These pauses give you 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. As you grow more mindful of your 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 you grow 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 your breath becomes too fast and heavy over a long period, it affects your well-being. This dynamic is clear in your 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 your 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 your 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 your breath helps your physical health by bringing you more in touch with your body. This awareness provides you with insights to enhance your health and life.
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 your 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. This exercise gives short-term relief from stress, depression, and anxiety. It also shows how the breath connects with your mind.
Practices that aim to control or change the length of your breaths only help your 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 your breath and you soon align with your thoughts and body. Once you can sense the feelings in your mind and space, stop trying to watch your breath. The practice has now served its purpose, and you can let your mind settle. From here, you gain insights such as how to improve your health. 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, your body and mind align. This alignment leads to insights that enhance your health and life.
Should you watch the breath to silence your mind?
You shouldn’t practice following your breath to silence your mind or avoid thinking. Such a motive comes from fear towards your thoughts and emotions. Realise this and you learn that following the breath teaches how to grow aware of the mind – not avoid it. This knowledge ensures that you don’t become addicted to methods that suppress your thoughts.
People with painful or disturbing thoughts often turn to techniques for relief. Don’t fall into this trap. Remember that any effort you make to avoid fear and pain strengthens their place in your mind. You cannot resolve your troubles by escape, or by using breathing as an anchor. When you experience a troubling emotion, do you turn to focus on the breath? What is your motive behind this action? If you fear your mind, notice this feeling and allow it to run its course. Here, you’re facing your fear, which will soon dissolve it. 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 your 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 your brain’s nature is to think without limit. Don’t aim to stop this motion. Instead, allow thoughts to happen and acknowledge them as you do with your breath. In time, you can stop witnessing your mind’s contents. This relaxation enables the wisdom of awareness to come forth.
Understand your motives behind following your breath and you free yourself from addiction to such routines. Here, you no longer suppress your 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 your mind releases its past baggage.
As your 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 your 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 for you to start this course by activating your inner awareness.