why breath is used in mindfulness exercises

If you’re at all familiar with mindfulness exercises or meditation, you have seen techniques centered on the breath. Why?

1. The brain likes oxygen.

This isn’t rocket science, but it turns out that when your brain is low on oxygen, like when you’re taking short breaths because you’re stressed, it doesn’t work as well. That means it doesn’t process thoughts, which means the mind’s basic effectiveness goes down. Oxygen is good.

2. Breathing is something we do all the time, but only need to pay attention to sometimes, and when we need to pay attention to it that means it’s really important.

Ever notice that it seems like commercials, movies, and television are getting louder and louder to get your attention? That’s because it takes more and more to stick out enough to get the mind to pay attention.

Breathing fits a happy medium of something that is relatively easy to pay attention to even though it’s perhaps one of our most basic functions. This is because when breath becomes important enough to pay attention to, it’s very important. For instance, when you’re drowning. However, outside of those scenarios, it’s not much more noticeable than your heartbeat.

3. We are all breathing in the same air.

The third reason is kind of more spiritual than we tend to get here, but when people focus on the air around them a lot of them feel more connected to the world. You could be breathing in some of the same air molecules as someone else in the room had in their body just a little while ago. Extrapolate that out. Feel connected yet?

If you do, or even if you don’t, take a few deep breaths. It’s good for you.

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