Breathing regulates the nervous energy that the mind uses for its thinking, and calms the emotions that feed anxiety, impulsiveness and negativity. So mindfulness of breathing, literally keeping the sensations and energies associated with breathing in mind, is a great tonic. It also regulates energy and encourages the discharge of energy that is a normal aspect of healthy functioning and which gets overlooked.
…Energy has two modes: arousal – powering up to deal with a task or prepare for a challenge – and discharge – returning to rest state after the task is done or the challenge is over. The way it is for humans, especially urban humans, is that the lifestyle keeps presenting new themes for arousal – the next task or challenge, or the next aim or goal, or the new thing to get excited about and buy. And the opportunities for discharge – the recognition of ‘that’s enough’, or that there’s nothing to do or worry about – dwindle to zero. Furthermore, the ‘get-ahead’, ‘prepare for the future’, ‘pay off my student loan’, ‘save up for a place to live’ mental messages keep the mind leaping to the next task or challenge or trying to create a stable scenario for the future.
So … get interested in the energy involved with breathing down into the base of your abdomen as you breathe out. Don’t concentrate on the breath, but get interested in how breathing happens, how the body does it. And you’ll notice it’s involuntary, so there’s no strain in doing it, and no sense of having to be good at it. So how does that attitude feel? It’s stress-free. And as far as the bodily feeling goes, there’s a subtle pleasure in really letting go, down into the base of your gut, a ‘sit back and soak’ feeling, as the breath empties out.
Ajahn Sucitto, Discharging Stress, Recharging Life