Once the mind has begun to track the slow pace of breathing, then the breath needs to be shaped so that physical and mental tensions that have altered breathing can be relieved.The process of giving the breath a new shape requires time and experience. If you try too hard, you may create new problems. With too little effort, you will continue to maintain breathing tensions that are largely outside awareness.
The qualities of optimal breathing are listed here. Using this list, you can refine your breathing and gain confidence in it.
Optimal breathing is:
- Deep; propelled by firm and measured contractions of the diaphragm.
- Smooth; flowing without jerks or agitation.
- Even; with exhalations and inhalations approximately equal in length.
- Without sound; flowing silently.
- Without pause; flowing with smooth and effortless transition between breath.
As you shape the breath, scan for difficulties in each of these areas, unblocking tension and allowing a relaxed flow of the breath to unfold with the passing moments.