It All Starts With Breath! Mindful Breath.

6 Comments August 24, 2008 / Posted in Breathe

Over the past 14 or 15 years and into the present, when I lead or facilitate support groups I begin with focus on one’s breath. From my early readings of Thich Nhat Hanh and practice of observing breath, I got a glimpse of: Present Moment, Beautiful Moment. Only a glimpse here and there as my thoughts flitter by…and then being aware of and letting go of my thought I’d return to Breathing In, I breathe in. Breathing out, I breathe out.

The Lotus Mud blog quoted from Thich Nhat Hanh regarding breathing :

“So I would propose a very simple practice to you, the practice of mindful breathing: "Breathing–I know that I am breathing in; breathing–I know that I am breathing out." If you do that with a little concentration, then you will be able to really be there, because in our daily life our mind and our body are rarely together. Our body might be there, but our mind is somewhere else. Maybe you are lost in regrets about the past, maybe in worries about the future, or else you are preoccupied with your plans, with anger or with jealousy. And so your mind is not really there with your body.”

Between the mind and the body, there is something that can serve as a bridge. The moment you begin to practice mindful breathing, your body and your mind begin to come together with one another. It takes only 10 to 20 seconds to accomplish this miracle called oneness of body and mind. With mindful breathing, you can bring body and mind together in the present moment, and every one of us can do it, even a child.

Here are Thich Nhat Hanhs’s directions for mindful breathing:

"To practice mindful breathing, just observe the natural rhythm of the breath. Please do so without forcing it to be longer, deeper, or slower. With attention and a little time, your breath with deepen naturally on its own. Occasionally, your mind will wander off. Our practice is simply to take note of this distraction and to bring our attention gently back to our breath. If you like, you may use the sentences listed here to help you in focusing your attention. During the duration of several in and out breaths, follow your breath from beginning to end. Use the keywords at the end of each pair of sentences to help you maintain your awareness:

1. Breathing in, I am aware only of my in breath. Breathing out, I am aware only of my out breath…In, Out

You can practice mindful breathing in any situation: while sitting, lying down, standing, driving, or working. Breathing consciously will bring more awareness and concentration to whatever you are doing."

You can find a number of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books and audios here .

6 Comments... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. Quotesqueen said on September 17th, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Thanks for the reminder. I want to develop more awareness of my breathing, more mind-body connection.

    I have used these words from Thich Nhat Hanh in meditation as well:
    Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
    Breathing out, I smile.
    Dwelling in the present moment,
    I know this is the only moment.

    Also, the shortcut:
    Calming-Smiling-Present Moment-Only Moment

  2. chayapathy s said on November 8th, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    It is really very enlightening to know about mindful breathing. Do we get full benefits with mindful breathing only or should we go further to vipassana meditation which is not suitable or possible to practice by every one. Please clarify.

  3. Ozzie Gontang said on February 1st, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Mindful breathing is only a beginning. A way to develop awareness. It benefits our observing. It keeps us in the present moment . The journey for many starts there.

    I don’t believe Buddha would put “shoulds” on anyone. It is about an individual’s willingness to become aware of the actual experience of living their life. Progress is at the pace of the individual becoming aware. The individual starts with a willingness to practice and develop mindfulness or awareness. Vipassana derives from perceiving, observing, or seeing through something or observing in a special way. I am reminded that it is about practice. Thus focus is on the journey and not the destination.

  4. Gungun said on September 28th, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Very interesting. But is it only about observing breath? How about be aware of body presence? I found if I focus only on breathing, I still cannot let go of anxiety. But if I focus on breathing as well as my body presence, I found my anxiety gradually decrease.

  5. Ozzie Gontang said on September 28th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Use the tool that works for you. You have found what works for you. It is about becoming the master craftsman of your life and mindfulness is a tool that one uses to be present, aware, awake and living one’s life intentionally.

  6. Ozzie Gontang said on September 28th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Caveat lector. With a reader beware in mind, The Century of the Self shows what we are up against in the year 2011 and how mindless can create into Mindfulness. Dan Ariely speaking in Predictably Irrational talks about how the market norm based on financial transaction can destroy the social norm based on trust and relationships. We are social/pack animals where by instinct I will risk my life without thought to save another fellow human. We are in this thing called life: together. It’s the flap of a butterfly’s wings to hurricane. Or does one snowflake think it caused the avalance.

    If we are to live our dreams: WAKE UP.

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