Breath watching is one of the simplest and most powerful of all the
breathing techniques. It alone can change your life in a number of
A few minutes of breath watching, anytime during the day, will help to focus your mind and make you more effective at whatever you’re involved in.
If you’re caught up in a negative emotional reaction of your downstairs brain, a moment or two of breath watching will bring your upstairs brain on line, calming you down, and making it possible for you to respond more constructively to whatever or whoever triggered your reaction.
Practiced regularly, over time, breath watching will increase your overall capacity for concentration. It will also strengthen the mid-prefrontal cortex of your brain (the MPFC). This makes it a powerful tool for strengthening your connection to the core experience of calm, ease, and contentment, which naturally will bring a greater sense of well-being, purpose, joy, and harmonious connection to others into your life.
Ultimately, this exercise can be done anywhere, anytime. However, when
first learning it, you may want to be somewhere quiet, with few
In breath watching, all you’ll do is gently observe the sensations of your breath without trying to change how you're breathing.
There are three places in the body where you can choose to observe the sensations of your breath.
Once you choose one of the above three places to focus, simply focus
all your attention on calmly observing the changing sensations there as
you breathe. Don’t try to make your breathing conform to any particular
rhythm or quality.
Just calmly observe it as it is –without judgment or concern. The breath may (and probably will) change on its own as you observe it, but the key is not to make any effort to change it.
When thoughts arise, just let them pass by without giving them your attention. When you do get lost in a stream of thought, as soon as you realize it, you're no longer lost, and you can just gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the breath wherever you've chosen to watch it.
After practicing, it’s helpful to remain quiet for a moment to observe and assimilate any effects the practice may have had on your body, mind, or emotions.
As you go on to your next activity, try to stay aware of any positive effects you experienced.
If you would like to be guided through it, you can find an audio version of breath watching here.