The Breath, Passage to Liberation

“The important thing is not to focus on the breath but to raise the pitch of your awareness in such a way that you are naturally conscious of your breath.”


Sadhguru: As one’s awareness gains the needed sharpness or keenness, one of the first things that one naturally becomes aware of is the breath. The breath being a mechanical action in the body that is constant and continuous, it is truly amazing how most human beings live without being conscious of it. But once the breath comes into your awareness, it becomes an amazing process. No wonder breath watching is probably the most practiced form of meditation today. It is so basic and simple, but it comes so easy and naturally that it does not need any preparation.

If you become a little more conscious, the breath will naturally come into your awareness. I was six or seven years of age when I started to enjoy the breath. Just watching the constant, rhythmic movement of my little chest and belly kept me interested and engaged for hours. It was only much later that the idea of meditation entered my life. But if you are a bit conscious, you cannot ignore the simple rhythm of the breath that is going on endlessly. 

Most people notice the breath only when their body goes into bronchial spasm or excessive breath. They are missing the normal breath, simply because they have a serious attention issue. These days, people are carrying their attention deficiencies like a qualification. 

Bringing Attention into Your Life

Bringing attention into your life and particularly into the lives of our children is most important. Ultimately, whether it is spiritual or material, the world yields to you only to the extent that you are willing to pay attention to it.

Focusing on the breath is a forceful attempt to do that. But it is also a way of making you conscious. The important thing is not to focus on the breath but to raise the pitch of your awareness in such a way that you are naturally conscious of your breath. The breath is such a mechanical process. In a minor way, the body is going through a spasm every moment you inhale and exhale. How can you miss it unless you are completely lost in your psychological framework? Unless you are totally lost in your own thoughts and emotions, if you simply sit down, there is no way you can miss the process of the breath. Including something into your awareness is not an act. There is no effort involved in this.

When we teach a certain process, we may ask people to focus on the breath because the necessary level of awareness is not there. But otherwise, if you simply sit, there is no way you cannot be conscious of the breath, unless you are lost in thought. So, do not be lost in your own thought – it is not of much consequence, as it comes from a very limited possibility of information. If you stay with it, the breath could become an access to a larger possibility. Right now, the process of breath itself may not be in most people’s awareness. They may only be conscious of the sensations caused by the movement of air in their nostrils or lungs. 

If you simply sit or lie down, staying still in every way, the breath will become such a big process, and it is on all the time. It is amazing how so many people can live without noticing it, without being conscious of it every moment of their life. Staying focused on the breath is one way to get there. Those of you who are initiated into Shoonya may find that if you simply sit there without doing anything, suddenly the breath seems to be happening in such a big way. The breath actually is a very big thing, though you may not realize it until you lose it. 

You may have heard the Bhaja Govindam chant, where it says, Nischala tatvam, jeevan mukti. What this means is if there is an unwavering attention towards something, no matter what the thing is, then liberation, the possibility of freedom cannot be denied to you. In other words, the essential problem of human beings is lack of attention. With keenness and intensity of attention, you can open just about any door in this universe. It all depends on how keen and intense your attention is, and how much energy there is behind your attention. In this context, the breath is a beautiful device because it is constantly on, as long as we are alive. The breath is there all the time. You just have to be conscious.

Editor’s Note: Sadhguru offers Isha Kriya, a free, online guided meditation that helps bring health and wellbeing. Daily practice of this simple yet effective 12-minute process can transform one's life. Isha Kriya is available for free on Sadhguru App. Download the Sadhguru App now!