We have all been told - and told others - to take a deep breath as a way of collecting our thoughts or changing our states. Taking a deep breath is as appropriate in the quiet of private reflection as it is before a performance. It's interesting language: take a breath. We don't take it from anyone else: breathing adds as much to the air as it takes.
What if you changed your language. Instead of taking a breath, what if you followed it. Your attention would have to make choices. Would you imagine your breath as starting at your mouth and moving down (as it does) or would it seem to start at the bottom and move up (as all your muscles shift to accommodate the depth of your breath)?
It's harder than it sounds, this business of following breath and deciding what comes first: the air or the intention? Either way, following your breath will lead you to the space in between breaths, the space where there is nothing to follow. In that moment that hangs between one breath and the next, you can live an eternity. You can probably think of one of those moments when time was suspended between two breaths now.
This is the space of utter stillness when, with no pattern to place between you and the world, you must just wait and be. In this waiting, you hope the next breath will begin and when it does, you might feel just a little relieved, a little energized by the thought that you have made it to another breath and all the new possibilities that ride its wave, in and out, up and down.