Sitting still and simply observing your own breath or working with a Pranayama (Ujjayi – for example) are calming exercises that will help you to get to know your breath. Simple practices such as these help to relax us – body and mind – a relaxed body breathes better; a relaxed mind thinks clearer.
I’d like to share with you ‘Natural Breathing’ a preliminary practice taken from Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. This exercise follows the ‘journey of the breath’ and gives us an excellent focus for a 10 minute meditation. You could easily record it onto your phone and then listen to it whenever you wish. Besides calming the mind and the breath, this practice helps us to learn the mechanics of the breathing process.
Remember the words of Tich Nhat Hanh
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
Natural Breathing – The Journey of the Breath
Sit in a comfortable meditation posture or lie in shavasana.
Relax the whole body.
Observe the natural and spontaneous breathing process.
Develop total awareness of the rhythmic flow of the breath.
Feel the air flowing in and out of the nose.
Do not control the breath in any way.
Notice that the breath is cool as it enters the nostrils and warm as it flows out.
Observe this with the attitude of detached witness.
Feel the air flowing in and out at the back of the mouth above the throat.
Bring the awareness down to the region of the throat and feel the air flowing in the throat.
Bring the awareness down to the region of the chest and feel the breath flowing in the trachea and bronchial tubes.
Next feel the breath flowing in the lungs.
Be aware of the lungs expanding and relaxing.
Shift the awareness down to the abdomen. Feel the abdomen move upward on inhalation and downward on exhalation.
Finally, become aware of the whole breathing process from the nostrils to the abdomen and continue observing it for some time.
Bring the awareness back to observing the physical body as one unit and open the eyes.