The Breath = LIFE!

Breath is life.

You could think of the breath as being like a thread or a chain that links and connects all the events of your life from birth, the beginning, to death, the end.  The breath is always there every moment, moving by itself like a river.

Have you ever noticed how the breath changes with our moods – short and shallow when we’re tense or angry, faster when we’re excited, slow and full when we’re happy, and almost disappearing when we’re afraid?  It’s there with us all the time.  It can be used as a tool, like an anchor, to bring stability to the body and mind when we deliberately choose to become aware of it.  We can tune into it at any moment during everyday life.

Mostly, we’re not in touch with our breathing – it’s just there, forgotten.  So one of the first things we do in mindfulness-based stress reduction is to get in touch with it.  We notice how the breath changes with our moods, our thoughts, our body movements.  We don’t have to control the breath. Just notice it and get to know it, like a friend.  All that is necessary if to observe, watch, and feel the breath with a sense of interest, in a relaxed manner.

With practice, we become more aware of our breathing.  We can use it to direct our awareness to different aspects of our lives.  For example, to relax tense muscles, or focus on a situation that requires attention.  Breath can also be used to help deal with pain, anger, relationships or the stress of daily life. 

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Reprinted by permission.

Personal communication: from Karen Ryder, Stress Reduction Clinic, University of Massachusetts Medical Center