When the mind is pulled away from the breath (which is OK and completely natural), eventually you become aware that you were off thinking in some way and now you are back in “presence.” Notice the difference between being awake right now and being lost in planning, remembering, fantasizing etc. Rest for some moments in the wakefulness you have re-discovered. This sensitizes your organism to the wakeful presence of “now”. It helps re-organize the nervous system to rest in the moment instead of churning the anxiety of past or future.
Now, before you return to the breath relax the facial muscles, jaw, neck and release any other felt tension in the body on your non-hurried way back to the breath. Take your time. This pause for relaxation is very important. There is no hurry. No place to go. These moments of relaxation are as important as any other part of the meditation.
If at any time you feel confused or you are starting to get very tight, throw open your awareness to experience the touch points of the body or sounds. Relax back and just feel the sensations of the touch points or allow the sounds to wash through for a while. When you feel settled again, go back to the breath.
Helpful Hint: If as you are noticing today’s “internal weather” is sleepy, tired or sluggish pay particular attention to the in-breath. The in-breath brings energy into the system, oxygen to all the cells. Paying specific attention here will, in many cases, enliven the system and our attention becomes sharper. If on the other hand you feel anxious, restless or nervous pay particular attention to the out-breath. The out-breath is a “letting go,” a releasing of tension.
Pat Coffey 2009