Breathing is one of the things to be looked after because it is one of the most important things. If you are not breathing fully, you cannot live fully. Then almost everywhere you will be withholding something, even in love. In talking, even, you will be withholding. You will not communicate completely; something will always remain incomplete.
Once breathing is perfect everything else falls into line. Breathing is life. But people ignore it, they don’t worry about it at all, they don’t pay it any attention. And every change that is going to happen is going to happen through the change in your breathing. If for many years you have been breathing wrongly, shallow breathing, then your musculature becomes fixed — then it is not just a question of your will. It is as if somebody has not moved for years: legs have gone dead, the muscles have shrunk, blood flows no more.
Suddenly the person decides one day to go for a long walk — it is beautiful, a sunset. But he cannot move; just by thinking it is not going to happen. Now much effort will be needed to bring those dead legs to life again.
The breathing passage has a certain musculature around it, and if you have been breathing wrongly — and almost everybody has — then the musculature has become fixed. Now it will take many years to change it by your own effort, and it will he an unnecessary waste of time.
Through deep massage, particularly through Rolfing, those muscles relax and then you can start again. But after Rolfing, once you start breathing well, don’t fall into the old habit again.
Everybody breathes wrongly because the whole society is based on very wrong conditions, notions, attitudes. For example, a small child is weeping and the mother says not to cry. What will the child do? — because crying is coming, and the mother says not to cry. He will start holding his breath because that is the only way to stop it. If you hold your breath everything stops — crying, tears, everything. Then by and by that becomes a fixed thing — don’t be angry, don’t cry, don’t do this, don’t do that.
The child learns that if he breathes shallowly then he remains in control. If he breathes perfectly and totally as every child is born breathing, then he becomes wild. So he cripples himself. Every child, boy or girl, starts playing with the genital organs because the feeling is pleasant. The child is completely unaware of the social taboos and nonsense, but if the mother or father or somebody sees you playing with your genitals they tell you to stop it immediately. And such condemnation is in their eyes you become shocked, and you become afraid of breathing deeply, because if you breathe deeply it massages your genital organs from within. That becomes troublesome, so you don’t breath deeply; just shallow breathing so you are cut off from the genital organs.
All societies that are sex-repressive are bound to be shallow-breathing societies. Only primitive people who don’t have any repressive attitude about sex breathe perfectly. Their breathing is beautiful, it is complete and whole. They breathe like animals, they breathe like children.
The breathing continuously changes with your emotions. When you are angry, your breathing is unrhythmic, asymmetrical. When you are in sexual lust, your breathing is almost insane. When you are calm and quiet, joyful, your breathing has a musical quality to it; your breathing is almost a song. When you are feeling at home in existence, when you have no desires and are feeling contented, suddenly breathing almost stops. When you are in a state of awe, wonder, breathing stops for a moment. And those are the greatest moments of life, because only in those moments when breathing almost stops are you in utter tune with existence: you are in God and God is in you.
Your experience of breathing has to be more and more profound, scrutinized, observed, watched, analyzed. See how your breathing changes with your emotions, and vice versa, how your emotions change your breathing. For example, when you are afraid, watch the change in your breath. And then, one day, try to change the breath to the same pattern as when you were afraid. And you will be surprised that if you change your breath to exactly what it was when you were afraid, fear will arise in you — immediately. Watch your breathing when you are deeply in love with somebody; holding his hand, hugging your beloved, watch your breathing. And then, one day, just sitting silently under a tree, watch yourself again breathing in the same way.
Make the pattern, fall into the same gestalt again. Breathe in the same way as if you were hugging your beloved and you will be surprised; the whole existence becomes your beloved. Again there is great love arising in you. They go together. Hence in Yoga, in Tantra, in Tao — in all these three great systems and sciences of human consciousness and the expansion of human consciousness — breathing is one of the key phenomena. They have all worked on breathing.
Buddha’s whole meditation system depends on a certain quality of breath. He says, “Simply watch your breath, without changing it. Without in any way changing it, simply watch.” But you will be surprised: the moment you watch, it changes, because watchfulness has its own rhythm. That’s why Buddha says, “You need not change it; simply watch.” Watchfulness will bring its own kind of breathing — it comes by itself. And slowly, slowly you will be surprised: the more watchful you become, the less you breathe. The breath becomes longer, deeper. For example, if in one minute you were breathing sixteen breaths, now you may breath six, or four, or three. As you become watchful, the breath goes deeper, becomes longer and you are taking less and less breaths in the same time period. Then you can do it from the other side too. Breathe slowly, quietly, deep, long breaths, and suddenly you will see watchfulness arising in you. It is as if each emotion has a polarity in your breathing system: it can be triggered by your breathing.
But the best way is to watch when you are in love, when you are sitting by the side of your friend. Watch your breath, because that loving rhythm of breath is most important: it will transform your whole being. Love is where you feel most sharply the absurdity, the falsity, of your position as a separated being. Yet by this very separation, this absurdity, you are able to express what you could not express in any other way. By your very otherness you are able to celebrate identity. Hence, the paradox of love; you are two and yet you feel one. You are one, yet you know you are two. Oneness in two-ness: that is the paradox of love. And that has to be the paradox of prayer too, and meditation too. Ultimately you have to feel as one with existence as you feel with your beloved, with your lover, with your friend, with your mother, with your child, in some rare valuable moments. By your very otherness you are able to celebrate identity.
Watch your loving moments more and more. Be alert. See how your breathing changes. See how your body vibrates… just hugging your woman or your man, make it an experiment, and you will be surprised. One day, just hugging, melting into each other, sit at least for one hour, and you will be surprised: it will be one of the most psychedelic experiences. For one hour, doing nothing, just hugging each other, falling into each other, merging, melting into each other, slowly, slowly the breathing will become one. You will breathe as if you are two bodies but one heart. You will breathe together. And when you breathe together — not by any effort of your own, but just because you are feeling so much love that the breathing follows — those will be the greatest moments, the most precious; not of this world, but of the beyond, the far out. And in those moments you will have the first glimpse of meditative energy….
You should learn to breathe very silently, as if there were no hurry to breathe, as if you were indifferent to it, aloof, far away, distant. If you can be aloof, far away and distant to your breathing, you will be able to attain to the middle. In that moment you will be neither masculine nor feminine. You will be both and neither, you will be transcendental….
When you are distracted, watch: your breathing will be distracted too. When you are not distracted, when you are sitting silently with no distraction, your breathing will be cool, silent, rhythmic; it will have the quality of subtle music. And that quality is the exact middle, because you are not doing anything, yet you are not fast asleep. You are neither active nor inactive, you are balanced. And in that moment of balance you are closest to reality, to God, to heaven.
Remember, your each breath is not just a breath, it is a thought too, an emotion too, a fantasy too. But this will be understood only if you watch your breathing for a few days. When you are making love, watch your breathing. You will be surprised, your breathing is chaotic; because sexual energy is very rough, raw energy. Sexual fantasies are rough and raw, animalistic. There is nothing special about sexuality —every animal has it. When you are sexually aroused, you are just behaving like any other animal in the world_ And I am not saying that there is anything wrong in being an animal, all that I am saying is just a fact. I am stating a fact. So whenever you are in sexual love, watch your breath: it loses all balance.
Hence, in Tantra, love-making is allowed only when you have learnt how to make love and yet keep your breath cool, rhythmic. Then a totally different quality comes to your lovemaking: it becomes prayerful; then it is sacred. Now for the outsider there will be no difference because he will see you are making love to a woman or making love to a man, and it will be the same for the outsider. But for the insider, for those who know, there will be a great difference. In the old Tantra schools where all those secrets were developed, experimented upon, observed, this was one of the central focuses of their experimentation: if a man can make love without his breath being at all affected by it, then it is no longer sex, then it is sacred. And then it will take you to great depths of your own being; it will open doors and mysteries of life.
Your breath is not just breath, because breath is your life; it contains all that life contains.