4. Connecting the breaths

After practicing following the breath for a while, we will easily discern several sensations during the in-breath, the out-breath and the pauses in-between. At this stage, the mind may get complacent and will therefore benefit from new challenges. One of these challenges is to connect the breaths. By connecting the breaths, we will compare different parts of the breath to strengthen attention and peripheral awareness. Here’s how we will practice connecting:

  1. Once we can clearly observe several sensations during the in-breath, the out-breath and the pauses in between, we will pay closer attention to the pauses. Which one of the two pauses is longer?
  2. Then, we’ll compare the in-breath and the out-breath. Are they roughly the same length? Is the inhale shorter than the exhale, or the opposite?
  3. Finally, we’ll observe the change of different parts of the breath over time. Is this out-breath longer than the previous one? Is the pause between the exhale and the inhale always longer/shorter than the other pause? Is the breath getting shallower or deeper?

The goal of connecting the breaths is to develop more stable attention by closely observing and monitoring the breath. At this stage, while many find this technique useful, while others find it overly intellectual or hard to grasp. If you don’t see the benefits or feel like connecting is making you more agitated or confused, you can safely move on to the next practice: Cultivating Introspective Awareness.