Observing vs. controlling your breath


When I practice the Hong-Sau meditation technique, as soon as I focus on my breath it slows down and I find myself trying to control it instead of observing it. Especially when I say the mantra, I end up trying to match my breath with the mantra. Can you suggest a way to just be able to observe my breath without controlling it? Thanks.

—Janice, USA


Dear Janice,

It is great to hear that your breath slows down as soon as you start practicing the Hong-Sau technique. That shows that something really is happening for you!

Here are a few suggestions which might remedy your challenge with this technique.

1) Imagine that you are watching somebody else breathe. Or you might visualize a beach with the waves rolling in and out very gently. The incoming wave is your inhalation and the outgoing wave is your exhalation.

Just as you can’t control somebody else’s breathing or the ocean when you sit and watch it, so too, try not to control your breath at all — just observe it as an outside observer.

2) Don’t “say” the mantra, even mentally. Listen for it instead. Tune in to it.

There is a very subtle sound which is already being made by anenergy impulse that rises up within you and causes you to inhale — this energy current actually makes a very subtle ringing sound like “hong” or “gong”.

Same with the exhalation energy impulse within your energy body, which causes you to exhale. It makes a sound like “Sau” or a releasing sigh. Very gentle.

Remember that the sounds or vibrations of the mantra are already going on inside you. You are just trying to be aware of them.

3) Focus on the pauses between the breath more than the breath itself. Enjoy them! These are little moments of exquisite bliss.

4) Remember that all meditation techniques are a means to an end. If you go into a state of bliss, forget the technique and just be there as long as possible. When it fades away, go back to your technique.

5) Be grateful for a powerful technique like this. It’s so much better than just sitting quietly and hoping something will happen, or thinking your usual thoughts, making shopping lists, reminiscing, etc.

Whether you notice something happening or not, it is happening anyway. You are being changed, merely through the effort alone. Effort brings grace.

6) Ask the Masters of this path to help you before and during your practice of Hong-Sau. They are the ones who gave us these powerful techniques and they will help us over all obstacles, if we just ask.

It is a mistake to meditate without consciously asking for their help and guidance. This is the key point.

Blessing to you!