Welcome to one of our most basic practices called Mindful Breathing. It is, simply put, being aware of your in-breath and out-breath.
At first, we can be mindful of 3 in- and out-breaths and gradually build our awareness and concentration over more breaths, and over a longer period of time.
I find for myself that my breath is the most reliable and portable tool that I always have to hand when I am overwhelmed by strong emotions.
My breath is my favorite anchor that I turn to when I need to find my center and reestablish solidity. When I feel a rush of anxiety or boiling rage escalating inside, I resort to calming myself with mindful breathing. One of my favorite exercises is:
In – Out
Deep – Slow
Calm – Ease
Smile – Release
Present Moment – Wonderful Moment
The most important thing is to enjoy and not control your breath. It’s okay if it’s short or long or deep or shallow. With time and practice it will naturally become deeper and slower.
Every time you feel lost, alienated, or cut off from life, or from the world, every time you feel despair, anger, or instability, practice going home. Mindful breathing is the vehicle that you use to go back to your true home.
– Thích Nhất Hạnh, From Taming the Tiger Within
From the Wake Up Together Handbook! www.wkup.org