When did you last pay attention to your breathing?

From the moment we are born into this world, we breathe.  As we watch a baby breathe we can see that when they are asleep their soft relaxed bellies gently and rhythmically rise and fall with each in and out breath:  Effortless and free.  Once they wake and start moving their breathing pattern  may quicken and sharpen a little as their concentration heightens and their body becomes active and alert.  And as they begin to tire their breathing begins to slow down which helps them to relax and prepare for sleep and rest.

In this way we can see the breath is responsive - adapting its pace, rhythm, volume and depth to support us through each situation we find ourselves in thereby reflecting what we are experiencing.  If we feel relaxed, our breathing relaxes and if we are feeling tight and tense our breath becomes constricted.  The breath therefore is a barometer to our internal state. 

Many of us are living a stress- filled fast- paced lifestyle, and the breath responds by speeding up and tightening in an attempt to supply the body and brain with as much oxygen and energy as possible.  This is part of the fight or flight response.  However if the stressful thoughts, feelings or situations continue this way of breathing becomes the new normal and we find ourselves stuck in a pattern of perpetual tension.

With mindful awareness we can become aware of how we are breathing and can use the breath to self-soothe, to transform how we perceive, think, feel, experience and respond to life.  Our breath responds to our internal state and yet by influencing our breath we can influence our internal state.  The purpose of these breath enquiries is to explore this for yourself.

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