Oakville Zen Meditation

#132 Breathing is pressing the pause button on our stream of thoughts

                                 Breathing is pressing the pause button on our stream of thoughts

                                                    The peaceful effect of conscious breathing

Based on the most recent 24h neuro imaging, our mind produces around and at least  75,000 thoughts a day.

This activity is automatic and subconscious since we do not watch or think continuously that we are thinking. We do not say: “I am thinking or I am aware that I am thinking”. If we have to think that we are thinking we will just do that and life will be impossible.!However, if you decide to pay attention to the current thought then thinking becomes conscious. It is called conscious thinking and it is a great tool to practice.

By forcing your mind to focus on your breathing, he has no choice but to stop its flow of thoughts and negative feelings. Your inner voice stops. It is like pressing pause on an audio tape . By the way, this is exactly what we do while meditating.

By using it, you can control your powerful stream of thinking by creating space and silence between thoughts and feelings? Without these spaces and silences, our restless thinking is an ongoing addition with repetitive thoughts coming back all day long. So, pressing the pause button on the stream of thoughts seems impossible but, in fact, it is the opposite and we have the perfect tool to achieve it.

Being aware / conscious of your in-out breathings, also called conscious breathing, takes our mind’s attention away from its duty of thinking. By stopping our thinking machine, conscious breathing creates space, stillness and silence within self.

How to practice conscious breathing?

At rest or moderate activity, breathing is triggered spontaneously around 14,000 times during the day. Therefore, occasions to pay attention to our breathing are not lacking and very easy to do since it is there. It is not something that you have to create but something that you can witness as it happens. No effort and no strain are required since your respiratory centers of the brain are doing the job and all you have to do is to feel it.

Paying attention to your breathing can be very short (1, 2 to 3 breaths) or longer depending on your current activity and the need to pause your restless mind.

Being aware of our breathing is to witness the in and out it, the feeling of the air moving in and out of your body, to realize that part of the universe is entering in your body and then part of your body going back to the universe. Notice also how the chest and abdomen expand and contract slightly with each in and outbreath.

Only one conscious in-out breath is enough to make a pause or a space on your stream of thoughts where before

there was an uninterrupted flow of one thought after another.

Several conscious breaths (at least 2), taken several times during the day, is a excellent and powerful way of bringing space and stillness into your life.

Since breath is invisible and has no form as such, it has since the ancient times been equated with spirit and life.

The German word for breathing is atmen derived from the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) word Atman meaning

God within or Divine Spirit within.

Other beneficial effects of conscious breathing:

Beside pressing the pause on your stream of thoughts, here are other benefits:

1) Breath awareness is also, as you know, an excellent meditation tool to anchor the mind. However, formal meditation cannot be a substitute for bringing peace during the day whereas conscious breathing is the way.

2) Focusing on your breathing once awhile is bringing your consciousness or awareness alive and on high alert rather than being thinking zombies. Being conscious is being in your most genuine entity that is beyond and above your thinking mind.

3) Another beneficial effect of conscious breathing is to force you to be in the present moment and not been transported in the past or future by your mind.

4) Anti-stress tool. Beside working out, there is an excellent correlation between the number of breath and there amplitude and our level of stress and worries. The more frequent and swallow breaths the higher our stress level and stress hormones. Controlling breathing is an effective tool to control the effect of stress but not necessary its causes.

Final words:

The fact that breathing is inside us, free, automatic, permanent, formless and yet accessible to our control is one reason why conscious breathing is an extremely effective way of bringing temporally space, stillness and peace into our chaotic life and restless mind, to be in the present moment, to generate active consciousness and to reduce the effects of stress.