In my humble opinion, the key to a great life is being able to breathe consciously. It seems so simple that it can't be true. But understanding this idea was the one thing that really helped me transition to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Learn to Breathe Mindfully
I refer to conscious breathing as mindful breathing. For me you can't just be aware that you are breathing, it has to be a mental process that executes the breath. I find it's necessary to say something in my mind as I breathe:
Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.
I got this phrase from Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book, “You are Here“. I've been using this same phrasing ever since and it's been months now.
The reason why I think you need to have this little saying going through your mind while you breathe is because it prevents other thoughts from coming in. It is also light enough that it doesn't feel like it consumes you. You can still have an immense amount of stillness.
I've showed this to people before. When I ask them later if they still use it, they say they tried it but it doesn't work. I ask them if they are staying aware of their breath – they say yes. I say do you use the phrase I showed you – they often say no.
I think its a bit counter-intuitive to have to say something in your mind to clear your mind, but it really works for me. What destroys our psyche and confidence is often overwhelming or everlasting thoughts that we can't shake.
If you think just breathing consciously is going to do anything to get rid of those heavy thoughts and feelings you are wrong. Within minutes or seconds, they will return. A deep breath can calm the beating heart, but I don't find it works for the racing and overpowering mind.
Peace of mind isn't going to come from emptying your mind, it will come from solidifying your mind. By placing a light phrase of awareness or gratitude in your higher consciousness you do just that. You become solid from fear and despair.
Your great life starts the when you choose
Why I say this is the key to a great life is because it is useful for ridding yourself of negative ego. When you have negative thoughts in your mind you often become debilitated. You can't move. You are frozen.
When you can reduce the amount of your negative ego and its resistance you can really start deliberately creating the conditions you want for your life. When we control the conditions, we can control what we manifest.
Here is a great formula: Passion – Negative Ego = Deliberate Creation
You can be so passionate about something, but if you have too much negative ego going on, you won't be able to live that passion. You won't be able to deliberately create something.
So if we can figure out what rids us of our negative ego, we can really start enjoying life and exploring our passions.
Let go through focused breathing
I believe that this type of focused breathing is an excellent way to rid ourselves of negative ego.
Typically, we are able to let go of our feelings when we stop thinking about them for a long enough period of time. Even just 5 minutes of space from our negative thoughts can give us the clarity that we aren't suffering as much as we thought. When we take these resisting thoughts out of our higher consciousness we detach from them. Our positive state can then resume.
By having a phase like the one given to us by Thich Nhat Hanh, we can replace our negative thoughts with a simple one that parallels our breath.
We can then connect the mind and body in full consciousness and realize that the feeling we had that was holding us back was just that – a feeling. It's impermanent just as all feelings are.
So next time if you aren't feeling so strong or lacking a bit of confidence, have a go at some focused breathing. When your thoughts are out of control, return to your breath, return to now – the present moment.
I promise you if you use the saying I gave above, and keep practising it, if will really help you in the long run. It has helped me immensely.