There are several mindful breathing techniques outlined in Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh does a beautiful job explaining them to us laypeople. He has also offered some different variations, including this well-known meditation:
“Breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile.”
I recently came across a transcript of a dharma talk Thich Nhat Hanh gave on mindful breathing in 1998. I was struck by the way he described returning to our bodies and ourselves through breathing and meditation. Here’s a short excerpt:
Have you ever heard the saying, when the student is ready, the teacher appears? I had one of those moments this week. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on finding ease, lightness, and joy during times of stress, frustration, and uncertainty. I attended a meditation session on Friday where the teacher talked about a concept that, because of my reflections, I was primed to hear.
He talked about how we often say, I don’t know why, but I don’t feel good. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if we could instead say more often:
I don’t know why, but I’m smiling.
I recently listened to a recording of a lecture titled “Clinging & Letting Go” that speaks to a powerful benefit of a consistent yoga practice: learning to relax into our feelings and experiences without reacting. We practice this while we’re on the yoga mat and we benefit from it throughout our lives.
“Clinging & Letting Go” was a talk given last year by Matthew Brensilver at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City and his subjects were actually buddhism and meditation. He speaks, unsurprisingly, about clinging as a barrier to freedom from suffering and letting go as the key.