Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. No matter what is going on inside us –- thoughts, emotions, or perceptions –- our breathing is always with us, like a faithful friend. Whenever we are carried away by our thinking, when we are overwhelmed by strong emotions, or when our minds are restless and dispersed, we can return to our breathing.
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The exercise is simply to identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as the out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath. Just recognize: this is an in-breath, this is an out-breath. Very simple, very easy.