Controlling the breath

Controlling the breath

by Headspace_HQ » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:57 pm


How much control is required when breathing and how do we become more aware of the extent of our control over the breath?

Andy's Answer:

It's an interesting question and in many ways the answer is in the question. So, how much effort to you put into controlling the breath throughout the day? My guess is zero, right? So, why when you sit to meditate would you apply any more control than at any other time? Remember, meditation is very different to yoga. We are not looking to control the breathing process in any way at all. In fact, we are simply providing a framework in which the breath can naturally unwind and relax, along with both the body and mind.

In theory there is no need to place any control whatsoever on the breath. The reason we end up doing it, or feel the urge to do it, is that we are used to trying to control the outcome of things. It feels quite alien when we begin to meditate to simply watch a very basic, monotonous, automatic function, without getting involved, without enforcing our will on it and without projecting our own idea of what the breath should feel like. So out of habit, boredom, uncertainty or misunderstanding, we try to control the breath instead of just letting it go. In short, we are more used to doing, less used to being.

The good news is that with time and practice this process naturally unfolds and, as we become a little less fearful, we begin to let go a little more. This translates from the mind to the body and the breath, meaning we become more interested in watching and listening, less interested in doing and thinking.

One really quick and easy way to discover if you are over-thinking or over-controlling the breath, is to simply compare your breathing during the first part of the exercise to the part where I ask you to let go, to quit focusing on the breath altogether and just allow the mind to be free. If there's a big difference, then there's probably a bit too much control or effort going into the first part of the exercise. But don't worry, that doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong, as this is part of the process of learning meditation. With time, you will see your response to the latter become more integrated with the former and a greater consistency and ease throughout your meditation.
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:39 pm

Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest