As you read this paragraph, you will be breathing. Be aware of your next breath. Every time you breathe, you can either breathe subconsciously or you can choose to breathe mindfully. And then you can choose to be grateful for each breath, which is what the Midrash suggests that we do. Since you breathe regularly throughout the day, the practice of being grateful for each breath will fill your day with gratitude.
There are courses on art appreciation and music appreciation. Breathing appreciation will enhance your life even further. Spend five minutes counting your breaths. This will increase your awareness of how often you breathe and will slow down your breathing.
When you breathe slowly and deeply, your nervous system relaxes and becomes calmer. Slow, deep breathing alleviates anger, tension, fears, and stress. These states are not conducive to clear thinking or happiness. As you breathe slowly and deeply your mind clears and you will be able to gain a broader perspective that is helpful in dealing with those underlying issues that have caused the distressful feelings in the first place. When you add gratitude, the process becomes much more effective.
I am often asked, "What is the one spiritual exercise that would help me connect with the Creator?"
"Breathing," I suggest.
"Breathing?" is often the incredulous reply.
"Yes, breathing! When you make breathing a spiritual experience, you gain a greater awareness of the Almighty's love and kindness. You appreciate that He gave you a need for oxygen so you would be constantly reminded that He is giving you what you need to stay alive.
We are all addicted to oxygen. Try to hold your breath for thirty seconds and the only thing you will be thinking of is, "I need my oxygen fix right away." This is a healthy addiction, and no one suggests that we give it up. So since you are breathing anyway, upgrade its quality. Be grateful for each breath. Begin right now with your next ten breaths.
(From Rabbi Pliskin's "Happiness", p.23-4)