There are two aspects to Breathwork: Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing.
Let’s begin with Breath Awareness.
We need to develop a very conscious relationship to the breath. This means tuning into our breathing. It means observing the breath, witnessing it, looking for subtle details in it.
We are talking about the practice of “meditative awareness.” It’s what the Buddha was doing when he became enlightened: he was watching his breath!
Most of the time, we are not conscious of our breathing. It’s happening outside of our awareness. To compensate for this, and regain a certain balance and stillness, we need to meditate on our breathing.
We can practice this Breath Awareness anytime, anywhere, for a minute or two, or for an hour or more.
The more conscious we become of our breath, the more conscious we become of everything: our thoughts and feelings, our habits, patterns, posture, our behavior…
The more aware we become of our breathing, the more aware we become of life and everything around us.
The more breath awareness we have, the more benefits we gain from our conscious breathing practice. So let’s get right to it!
Put aside some time for your breathing meditation. Ten minutes is good. Twenty minutes is better. See that you won’t be disturbed or interrupted.
Be sure to leave some time for yourself afterward, to move and stretch, to write in your journal, to enjoy a cup of tea, or to do something else that you love.
Do not underestimate the value of this simple practice! It has both immediate and cumulative benefits.
The main thing about the practice of Breath Awareness is that you are not doing the breathing… Not breathing in any particular way.
You are letting the breath breathe you. You are allowing the breath to come and go by itself, the way it wants. You’re just an impartial observer, a detached witness.
If the breath moves through your nose, focus your attention on the feelings and sensations in your nostrils and at tip of your nose as the air passes in and out.
If breathing through your mouth, notice the feelings and sensations of the air as it passes over your lips and tongue, the roof of your mouth and your throat.
You can also focus on the feelings and sensations in your chest or belly as the breath moves in and out. Be aware of what moves in your body when you breathe.
When your mind wanders, or you get caught up in thinking, or when something else pulls your attention away, come back to your breathing: focus totally on your next breath.
When feelings and sensations in your body distract you, notice how they affect the breathing.
After the exercise, review/evaluate your experience. What feelings, sensations, or movements did you notice? Where?
How would you describe or characterize your breathing pattern: slow, quick, deep, shallow, smooth, chaotic, forced, natural, effortless?
If breathing is the language of the soul, if your breathing reflects and expresses your relationship to life, what does your breathing pattern tell you about yourself and your attitude toward life?
Begin to pay attention to the breathing in others: people you meet in public and in private, those with whom you work and play. Pay attention to their breath when they speak, move, complain, celebrate, watch TV or listen to music, when they are angry, nervous, embarrassed, etc.