The Importance of Breath in Meditation

Both posture and #breath are synergistic in our meditation practice; they work together to ensure our progress. Today's post is about the latter - Breath, or Pranayama, and builds on the earlier post about posture. So, ready? Let's begin!

While it is true that we all breathe, how many of us can honestly say we are conscious of it? When I teach people meditation, one of the first questions I ask is whether they are aware of their breathing: adults, children, teenagers, I ask everybody. Most people are not aware of their breathing process most of the time. I would venture a guess that most of us only value our breathing when, for whatever reason, we can't! But if that was to happen, I bet you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this! Breath is Life. Breath is immediate. Breath is closer to us than anything else; it is so close that we usually overlook it.

Pranayama: Breathing

Pranayama is breathing in the yogic context. There are many different kinds of pranayama in the yogic tradition, and usually they are formalized breath exercises and techniques. However, the most important breathing technique for our purposes, for learning a simple and easy #meditation, is natural breathing. Just being aware of the breath as it comes in and goes out. Not forcing it, not trying to change it into anything, not trying to make it different: simply observing the breath. Believe it or not, this natural breath is actually a very potent form of pranayama. Why? Because it does something very significant. Over time it equalizes the in-breath and the out-breath; it helps us to glide into a tranquil state. This happens because the breath and mind are closely connected. I call this the breath/mind connect. Think about it for a minute: when you are worried, anxious, or angry, how is your breath? Choppy. Constricted. Shallow. Forced. Stuck. When you are feeling hap