Thich Nhat Hanh, of Plum Village Monastery, is a Zen Master and lifetime practitioner and teacher of mindfulness practices. His teachings explain that when we practice mindfulness, we are practicing mindfulness of something. We can be mindful of sounds, sights, sensations, feelings, and, especially, the breath. The art of mindful breathing is one of the most common and introductory practices in mindfulness meditation.
The Universal Power of Mindful Breathing
The path to mindful breathing begins with guided meditations designed to help us discover the power of this universal tool. The breath is always with us. It was with us when we were born and has been with us in every moment since. For this reason, the breath can always be used as an object of our mindfulness meditation practice. This makes mindful breathing a common tool in many different schools of mindfulness meditation.
Bringing mindfulness to the sound of passing cars, for example, is only possible in areas where cars are passing. However, mindful breathing is available to us no matter where we are, no matter what time of day. The breath is accessible to every living being, which makes it a powerful connecting link between all students of meditation.
The Art Of Mindful Breathing
There are 10 day silent retreats where meditation students are asked to focus on nothing but their breath for the first three full days. Many students quickly become frustrated with this mindful breathing practice, expecting something to happen. On the contrary, the true art of mindful breathing happens when we learn to watch the breath without expecting anything to happen as a result.
The real power begins when we are able to watch the breath the same way we would watch a sunset, without expecting anything from it. The key is to enjoy the breath as it occurs, without trying to manipulate it.
Consider the two types of people who practice guitar. The first practices because they think they should be practicing. The other can’t walk past a guitar without picking it up, because they love to make music. We can view mindful breathing the same way.
There are two ways to practice. We can practice because we think we should, or we can learn to love the practice itself and enjoy it. In this way, the practice becomes much more enjoyable and sustainable.
Start Your Mindfulness Journey
At The Mindful Place, our goal is to create an environment where you can feel comfortable and supported in your journey of mindfulness meditation and self development. We want this to be a place where you feel at home: mind, body, and spirit.