Breath provides a way to focus our mind and keep it from wandering into the past and future. Counting the inhalation and exhalation can be especially helpful for that. Breath can calm our autonomic nervous system. It is an access to sensing the self through its movement. There is a big difference between thinking what is happening or what should happen, and sensing what is happening or what wants to happen. Sensing is not about doing. It is about listening. Sensory information comes to the brain for processing. The brain is only the interpreter. I often find that new students need to learn how to listen to sensation before they can make effective movement changes. If we are interpreting what is going on without sensation, then we are making up stories without asking the source, possibly to serve our schedules, belief systems, will power, or habits.
Breath gives us a sense of inner space. From the place of inner space, we can start to pay attention to our signs and symptoms and what they are telling us without expectation or judgment. From this place, with patience and curiosity, we can start to honestly ask ourselves some questions.
What do I feel?
What do I want?
What do I really want?
What wants to happen?
Fatigued? What kind of activity would give me recuperation from the activity I have been doing today?
Hungry? What kind of food would give me the best nourishment?
Thirsty? What kind of drink would best replenish my fluids?
In a mood? Is this true for me? Do I need time to really feel what I am feeling?
Feeling stressed or anxious? How do I know this? Where do I feel it in the body? What is happening? What is the quality, the density, the movement, the colour, the texture, timing, weight? Is it changing? What would it like to do? Where does it want to go?
This may seem rather tedious perhaps even odd, but if you stick with it, you may be surprised how much information and change transpires, and how just paying attention can help bring a more natural rhythm back into your day.