I love it when people tell me that their breath changes whenever they put their attention on it.
For most people, when they put their attention on the breath, in that moment their breath behaves differently. This is normal, and it proves that you are human!
All great teachers have said that our deepest work is on the level of consciousness, and breathwork is a perfect way to awaken, deepen, refine, purify, and expand our consciousness. Our normal everyday mode of consciousness disturbs our nature. And so we need to develop a different quality of awareness.
When we walk into a forest, all the birds and animals see us and hear us long before we notice them. In fact, as we enter the forest, all the creatures run for their lives! They stop feeding or playing or engaging in their natural activities: they freeze or they run or fly off to safety. They hide from us. In other words, our presence disturbs nature.
And yet, we have all learned that when you enter a forest quietly, slowly, consciously, or if you sit very still and remain very quiet, all the creatures resume their natural activities. The same is true of us and the breath.
When we put our attention on the breath, it reacts to us. It’s like if we are in the shower singing loudly and to our hearts content, and suddenly we realize that a group of strangers are watching and listening, we stop singing, or we change our tune!
We don’t always behave the same way when we are alone compared to when others are observing us or judging us. It’s normal. It’s human. We all have an innocent, delicate, and sensitive inner child; and when we do inner work, if we bring the judging mind with us, we will do violence on our inner child.
That is the point of Breath Awareness, to develop or raise or refine our consciousness. We need to develop the kind of consciousness that doesn’t disturb our nature, the kind of consciousness that brings us into alignment with nature, that allows our true nature to reveal itself, to open, blossom and evolve.
When you bring your attention to the breath, you bring all the baggage that is tangled up or stored in your consciousness. For example, the tendency to control or judge, to resist or attach. Is it right or wrong? Is it good or bad? Should I do this, or must I do that?
This kind of mind is like a dangerous intruder into our naturally vibrant and sublime realms. It creates a split in us. Not only is it divisive, but it also stifles our creativity, and it disturbs our nature. That is the purpose of Breath Watching or Meditative Awareness: to quiet the mind, to refine and up level our consciousness.
The practice of Breath Awareness is also very powerful attention training, concentration training—it is a mindfulness practice. Almost everyone who practices reports that when they try to meditate, their mind quickly wanders, or they become distracted.
When our consciousness gets hijacked, and we find ourselves reacting to miscellaneous habits and patterns, unconscious programs, urges or impulses, the game is to notice these things, and to observe our reactions to them. The game is to simply relax, and gently redirect our attention back to the breath.
Breathwork is about self-liberation, and the main thing we need to be liberated from is our own conditioned mind, our limited thoughts and feelings, our behaviors, our reactions. The more often your mind wanders or gets distracted, the more opportunities you have to train your mind to be quiet and still, and to train yourself to be simply present and aware.
So, don’t worry if you notice that you disturb your breath when you try to observe it. Be patient and persistent. Be loving and gentle. Look and listen and feel from your heart, not your head. And soon, your breath will behave naturally even when you are paying attention to it.
And who knows, you may even develop the ability to go into a forest without disturbing nature. Birds will land on your shoulder and animals will play at your feet, you will have inner peace and your life will flow beautifully, naturally and perfectly thanks to your quiet mind, your relaxed body, and your open heart!
Nature and your own body-mind system will recognize you as part of itself and part of the natural world, instead of a dangerous or disturbing intruder! We all have a place within us that is pure and powerful, innocent, wise, and free. And the more we practice, the more we live from this precious and eternal part of us—our divine essence!
Good luck in your practice and many blessings on your path,
(Guchu Ram Singh)