Breathing Exercise: Becoming Aware of the Breath

Breathing really matters. An average person breathes anywhere between 12 to 20 times a minute, which is around 23000 breaths every day viz more than 11000 litres of air. It is interesting to know that one could survive more than 3 weeks without food, maximum 3 days without hydration but 3 minutes of breathlessness would lead one to fatal brain damage.

From the above comparison, one could realize how important the breath is yet we seldom consider it a factor for promotion or demotion of health and longevity. So let’s give a few minutes to such an important and integral of our existence.

Take a moment to sit comfortably or lie down on your back. Now I want you to become aware of your breath whether you do it by focusing on the tip of your nose or by observing the rising and falling of the belly or by mentally following the breath as it moves in through the nose, gently filling the lungs and out through the same path. Simply observe!

What do you notice? Do you notice the difference in temperature of air as enters and leaves the nostrils? Which one is warmer? Which one is colder?  Is your breathing abdominal or thoracic? Don’t try to control it or change it. Simply observe! As you observe you will realise that the more you let go off effort, the breath becomes deeper and slower but don’t make an effort to let go off the effort because that’s making an effort. If your mind wonders in other thoughts and sensations simply bring it back to different sensations of breathing.

Simply observe the movement of the belly as it moves in and out with each inhale and exhale, observe the temperature of air as it flows in? What do you notice? Is it cold and soothing or warm and comforting? Now observe the outbreath? Observe how relaxing if feels and let go of tension with each outbreath. What else do you observe? Do you observe the nasal hair moving with each inbreath and outbreath? Do you wonder that from where does the inbreath come and where does the outbreath go? Don’t think too much simply take an inbreath of gratitude and appreciate how significant it is to breathe and what a privilege it is to be able to breathe deeply and comfortably? What a privilege it is to be alive? Enjoy and appreciate breathing for as long as you want.

When you are ready to end the exercise take 3 forceful in breath and outbreaths. Now slowly start moving your body, starting from fingers and toes. Gently stretch your body as you have just awakened from a deep relaxing sleep. Rub your palms together till they get fairly warm then cup them around your eyes with a very light touch. Then slowly sit-down for a little while and allow the calm and peace to settle in your mind and heart before you continue with your day.

This is a very powerful exercise and can be treated as a meditation in itself. Sometimes twenty minutes of this exercise can be as rejuvenating as 3 hours of sleep. How do you feel after this practice? Let me know in the comments below. If you really enjoyed this article, share it with your friends and family too. so they can also benefit from conscious breathing.

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