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PodcastThe Place of Breath

The Place of Breath

Understanding the place of breath, not just in meditation, but also in our lives. Learn about leading the breath with the mind.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

(gentle music) Headspace Studio. Hi, it's Andy here, and welcome to Radio Headspace and to Thursday morning. Today I thought we would maybe have a look at the breath. The breath may not sound particularly exciting other than the fact that it keeps us alive, of course. It's one of the things that people write in most about, I think, to Headspace. We get very hung up on the breath. And when meditation or in meditation when we're asked to focus on the breath, it's very easy to complicate things. And we might think that we have to breathe in a special way. We might think that, I don't know, that there's a particular technique to the breath or something like that. And I think it's really helpful to understand the place of breath, not just in meditation, but also in our life, and how the breath can help not just regulate our physical sensations, but also our mental activity. And the way I've always understood it is, you can really approach this in two ways. You can lead with the body or you can lead with the mind. So when we consider active conscious breathing techniques, you might find them in yoga, you might find them in other traditions and disciplines, where you consciously breathe in a particular way with the idea of changing the feeling in the body or changing the activity of the mind. So that's sort of leading with the body. We're using the body to breathe in a particular way, and in breathing, that then tends to influence our mental state and the way we're feeling. The other way, leading with the mind, which is more what we tend to do in the type of meditation that I'll often teach in the app, is sort of leading with the mind. And we're essentially saying, "Look, the body knows how to breathe." We don't need to do anything with the breath. We don't need to change it. We don't need to do it in a particular way. They don't have to be big deep breaths. They don't have to be from a particular place in the body. We're simply allowing the body to do its thing. And in witnessing that, over time, the body naturally finds its own place of comfort with breathing. So the thing that really appealed to me about this idea of sort of leading with the mind rather than the body, we live in a world where we are constantly doing, where there's constantly this idea of trying to do something, and the idea of not needing to do anything actually sounded really radical in a way, quite revolutionary, that we could sit and simply not do, not even have to breathe in a special way. Sure, it wasn't always easy, it's not always easy. But if we can get comfortable in that space and get comfortable with that idea of not doing, the breath will find its own way, and in time,...


Duration4 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

    More about Kessonga
  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

    More about Rosie
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