Photo by Todd Quackenbush

It’s been building for a few decades now, but the forces behind some popular psychology and self-development techniques have reached epic proportions in some spheres. In some of these, breathing plays a pretty important role. Well, in reality it’s an essential life critical one, but what I mean is that there’s a load of focus on how we are supposed to breathe. There is also a lot of focus on focusing our concentration on our breathing and then focussing on guiding its correct rhythm, depth, or whatever.

Unfortunately, traditional practices are also, I think, being distorted by this and it doesn’t truly reflect their original approach. This includes Tai Chi and Yoga, for example.

What’s being taught in all this is that taking control of our breathing will in some way help to develop brilliant new states of mind and awareness that will then unlock our potential so that we can fly away and have a wonderful, happy and prosperous life full of the positive thoughts and feelings required in our new idyll of a world.

Now, I’m all for breathing, for obvious reasons, but if we consider for a moment that there is some split between our minds and our bodies, which of course there isn’t, and ask ourselves when our bodies suddenly lost the capacity to breathe perfectly well without our input. Since when do we know more about the breathing process and its rhythms than our body? I’m at pains to work this one out or find any evidence for it.

When we consider, for a moment, the capacity that our body has to automatically regulate our breathing for every single moment of our lives in the ideal and most efficient way, wouldn’t and couldn’t we perhaps benefit even more by developing a better relationship with this wonderful gifted natural process? And instead of trying to contrive a goal or outcome, embrace whatever emerges out of the process? But maybe that’s a little scary…

Here’s how I recommend you could do it:

To start with you might want to sit down somewhere quiet. Even better, do this outside in a wonderful location for you. You can also do it on the train or tube, on the bus to work, or anywhere you like actually, but probably best not to do it if you’re driving or operating machinery, for example. Relax and just become aware of your natural breathing motion. You don’t even have to have your eyes closed because you’re not going to put any effort into this exercise. Be effortless with it.

And relax into just feeling that process without trying to interrupt it in any way with your thoughts. Just let it happen and see what happens.

That’s it. Doing it regularly can be helpful.

Just breathe, and let it happen, naturally.

Todd Quackenbush