Inhale, exhale, repeat. Breathing is so simple, and yet its effects are miraculous. The ultimate sign of life, the foundation of meditation, breath is the means by which we can truly focus on the present moment.

Science is only just confirming the wondrous merits of deep breathing. But yogis and meditators have understood its power for centuries.

Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, has spoken at great length on the influence of mindfulness and deep breathing. Revered for his ability to express age-old wisdom with modern simplicity, he captures how we can live peacefully and mindfully through such a basic technique. Here are some of our favorite quotes.

Breath As A Uniting Force

Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.

Breath As A Foundation

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.

Breath As A Form Of Control

Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a watersnake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds. Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used.

Breath As A State of Being

Practicing conscious breathing, aware of each thought and each act, we are reborn, fully alive, in the present moment. We needn’t abandon our hope entirely, but unless we channel our energies toward being aware of what is going on in the present moment, we might not discover the peace and happiness that are available right now.

Thay’s words remind us that we don’t need to search outside of ourselves for a little peace and clarity. The answers are inside us, right in our lungs.