Each breath is a sacred act. You have been given life and a moment by moment reminder of this exists within the act of breathing. Something of such importance is given no attention by us unless it becomes difficult to do. Breathing is automatic, until it is not, but only in those rare instances that it is not do we pay any attention to it. If we were to bring our attention to our breathing we would find a simple but effective way to calm our nerves, de-stress, and enter into present moment awareness.
Present moment awareness is the thread that runs through most, if not all, spiritual systems and systems of positive transformation. Perhaps this may indicate its prime importance in achieving inner peace, equanimity, and all the other gifts associated with spiritual realization.
Realization is an apt word to describe spiritual awakening, because it is ultimately a realizing of the truth of one’s beingness, and not a series of steps to take to arrive at a particular destination. Though the series of steps can make it easier to wake up from the dream of separateness and whatnot, they are not absolutely necessary. But, I digress.
You can combine the awareness of breath with a mantra, either silently intoned within the mind, or verbally intoned at various volumes and melodies. Also one can count one’s breaths as a further aid to focus and relaxation. I find that counting up from 1- 100, as many times as I wish aids in energizing and awakening the vitality, while counting down from 100 -1 can aid in the onset of sleep of deep meditation if one finds it difficult to relax.