Why the Breath
January 09, 2004

We watch the breath so we can watch the mind. The breath is like a mirror for the mind. When you look at the way you breathe, you can get a good sense of what’s going on in the mind. If you get really familiar with the breath, you can begin to detect things that are happening in the mind that you otherwise might have missed. When there’s greed, when there’s anger, when there’s delusion, they’ll show up in the breath. You find, though, that not only does the breath reflect the mind, but you can also use the breath to have an effect on the mind as well. Say, when there’s anger, you consciously change the rhythm of your breathing. That will have an effect on the mind. The principle of cause and effect goes both ways here. The mind has an effect on the breath; the breath can have an effect on the mind.