Breathing comes automatically, while you sleep, eat, drink, shower, have sex, run, walk, read, and laugh. It changes in each of these situations, adapting instinctively to ensure you get enough oxygen and do not choke, drown, or otherwise end up in danger or dead.
But just because it is automatic does not mean that your breathing is always serving you in the best way. When you get stressed out, you start breathing shallow and fast. If you get anxious, you might hyperventilate. If you focus on a problem too much, you may even forget to breathe at all and actually temporarily hold your breath.
There is a definite connection between your breathing and your mental state. Whatever happens in your mind influences your breathing and vice versa … how you breathe affects how you feel.
Awareness of the breath trains you to watch your breath. All that is really involved is bringing your Awareness to your breath. Because you breathe automatically, you do not normally think about breathing. This is an opportunity to become more aware of the nature of your breath.
As you become aware of your breathing, do not try to consciously change it. Having an Awareness of your breath and an acceptance of how it is without trying to change it is a perfect example of mindfulness in action.
Your breath changes as you watch it. It becomes more even, smooth and relaxed. As you bring the practice of mindfulness to your breath, it does change, it knows you are watching. Bringing attention to your breath will change the nature and rhythm of your breathing without you having to do anything else.
If you have a calm breathing pattern, you have a more relaxed mind, which is less likely to overreact to whatever is going on around you. Bringing your Awareness to your breathing gives you a clue as to what sort of mental or physical state you are in.
Breath Awareness puts you in touch with the present moment.
Breathing can help you fight addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, food. People will tell you to breathe when you are upset, stressed, angry, or scared. If you give birth, they even give you special breathing techniques to get through it. And of course meditation focus on the breath.