“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Our breath is our anchor on the present moment, the way life manifests inside us.
Our breath is a reminder of the uniqueness of every moment, the common denominator of all humanity. By rediscovering this simple action, we can reconnect to our body and train the mind to settle down.
The breath is always with you. When you practice meditation and breathing you gain a skill you can use whenever you need to quiet and clear the mind. Just following a few breaths —in and out, in and out — can relax the mind and body so you can calmly observe and respond to the world around you, rather than mindlessly reacting to events.
Mindful breathing is a technique you can use not only during formal meditation, but also in your daily life. As you focus on your breath, your thoughts settle down and your mind becomes calm and clear. In Buddhism, this restful state of body-mind is called samadhi. Breathing meditation is the foundational training of all Eastern contemplative traditions, with immense benefits for body and mind, as proven by science:
- supports restfulness and peace
- controls your blood pressure and cardiovascular activity
- is a natural way to diminish anxiety
- allows for better brain oxygenation
- activates the default mode network
- allows you to “check and act” instead of re-acting