Take a moment to breath. Observe it. What do you observe? Cool air inhaled? Warm breath exhaled? Fast or slow inhalation? What about exhalation? Are you breathing fast or slow? Is your inhalation longer than exhalation. Well, now you may ask what has that to do with looking inward? Well, it has everything to do with looking inward. Let us look at why.
Breath is affected by physiological state as well as our mental or emotional state. If we are running our breaths are shorter and faster. We inhale more than we exhale. Now if we observe our breath when stressed, anxious or afraid it will be similar to our breath while running. This is because during a fight or fight mode our body is designed to breath faster and shorter in order to receive more oxygen so more energy can be released to our limbs to take us into safety.
The fight or flight mode during the present day may look similar to our during the cave days. In cave setting we had the real danger of predators while in our current time we have “danger” of being left behind which may undermine our survival. It is natural for the mind to mark it as a threat to survival. Naturally, our body as well goes into fight or flight mode. We may breath faster and shorter pumping our lungs with as much air as possible. The mechanism is the same but the source is different then and now.
Now let us look at how breath landscape change when we are relaxed. We breath deeper and through belly just like a baby and much slower. Our exhalation would be longer than our inhalation naturally.
How does the pattern and nature of our breath help us look inward? Since ancient times in India and many other Asian countries breath is where the focus is while meditating. It is not external and it is always present with us until we die. Since we naturally observe our breath we start observing how our body is and then naturally observation extends to emotions and then thoughts. We start seeing how we look at ourself and the world around us. We start seeing our triggers. Naturally we end up seeing our thought patterns and beliefs. Over time we start seeing our self. It is said that you start seeing yourself as separate from your mind or what constitutes the mind such as thoughts and feelings and as well separate from our body. When you reach this state you also observe how silent your breath is and the calmness it has. The detachment you experience from your mind and body helps you to reduce your suffering.
Watching our breath is a pathway to watching ourselves The more you watch yourself the more you start to change your patterns and the more you transform into becoming your whole self.