A flower that has never known the sun and a flower that has encountered the sun are not the same. They cannot be. A flower that has never known the sunrise has never known the sun to rise within itself. It is dead; it is just a potentiality. It has never known its own spirit. But a flower that has seen the sun rise has also seen something arise within itself. It has known its own soul. Now the flower is not just a flower; it has known a deep, stirring innerness.
How can we create this innerness within ourselves? Buddha invented a method, one of the most powerful methods, for creating an inner sun of awareness. And not only for creating it: the method is such that it not only creates this inner awareness but simultaneously allows the awareness to penetrate to the very cells of the body, to the whole of one’s being. The method that Buddha used is known as Anapana-sati Yoga – the yoga of incoming and outgoing breath awareness.
We are breathing, but it is unconscious breathing. Breath is prana, breath is the élan vital – the vitality, the very life – and yet it is unconscious; you are not aware of it. And if you had to be aware of breathing in order to breathe, you would die. Sooner or later you would forget: you cannot continuously remember anything.
Breathing is a link between our voluntary and our involuntary systems. We can control our breathing to a certain extent, we can even stop our breathing for a while, but we cannot stop it permanently. It goes on without us; it does not depend on us. Even if you are in a coma for months, you will go on breathing; it is an unconscious mechanism.
Buddha used breath as a vehicle to do two things simultaneously: one, to create consciousness, and another, to allow that consciousness to penetrate to the very cells of the body. He said, “Breathe consciously.” This does not mean to do pranayama – yogic breathing; it is just to make breath an object of awareness, without changing it.
There is no need to change your breath. Leave it as it is, natural; do not change it. But when you breathe in, breathe consciously; let your consciousness move with the ingoing breath. And when the breath goes out, let your consciousness move out with it.
Move with the breath. Let your attention be with the breath; flow with it. Do not forget even a single breath. Buddha is reported to have said that if you can be aware of your breath for even a single hour, you are already enlightened. But not a single breath should be missed.