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 Why the Breath?

Using the breath as an object for our attention is as ancient as it gets. And with good reason - the breath is always Now and the breath is always Here. Breath meditation is not a fad, it's not a NYT best-seller about how to live better. Focusing on the breath is living better, it's a practice that brings us back to the body, grounding us solidly in the present moment. You can read more on this page about why using the breath makes sense for meditation, or  click below to jump right to other topics:

The breath is a natural object for meditation, used for thousands of years by many different traditions. The breath is always Now and always Here. So, focusing on your breath grounds you in your body this very moment. You don't need any accessories to experience your breath. You don't need a teacher or a special place or a book or a guiding voice or an app. You can do it anywhere, and anytime.

The breath is a bridge between our intentional, awake mind and our body. The breath is one of only a few bodily processes that are both under conscious and unconscious influence. You don't need any intention to breath - breathing just happens, in which case it is mostly under the influence of the autonomic nervous system, the same system that handles hormone secretions without your intending them (thankfully!) But you can influence your breath with intention - making it deeper or shallower, faster or slower, or even holding it, all of which happens more through the somatic nervous system in ways similar to consciously choosing to move your arms or legs.

We see this connection between aspects of our nervous systems in how we physically respond to mental-emotional states; when anxious and stressed, the breath quickens or gets held or staggered. When calm, the breath steadies and often deepens. We can use the breath as a connecting bridge for the body-mind, by bringing our full awareness and concentration on to it.

Follow the links on the left side-bar for practical instructions on breath meditation methods, or just start here with Counting the Breaths.

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