Breathing is an automatic behavior. We can breathe without thinking about how to breathe. Evolution equipped us with conscious awareness not for breathing, but for solving problems and achieving goals. When we meditate, we’re actually misusing our conscious awareness. It’s not natural for us to focus our mind on breathing. So why waste cognitive energy on practicing mindfulness? Why should I learn to observe my breath if all I want is to achieve goals?
1. When you practice mindfulness by observing your automatic breath, you learn to monitor automatic processes. Meditation builds neural connections for monitoring what happens automatically in your body.
2. Emotions determine the mental game of success. If you want to achieve your goals, you must have a good mental game; and to have a good mental game, you must know how to regulate your emotions: how to manage risks (fear), setbacks (frustration), mistakes (guilt), confrontation (anger), people (joy), failure (sadness), drive (pride), and lack of motivation (apathy).
3. Like breathing, emotions are automatic. Thus, if you learn how to monitor automatic processes, you also develop emotional self-awareness. With such awareness, you can catch yourself having emotions that weaken your mental game, and you can regulate them accordingly to achieve your goals.
In sum, breathing meditation helps you to achieve your goals by enhancing the self-awareness needed for goal-oriented emotion regulation.