How is Breathwork Different from Meditation?

February 15, 2021, Publisher: Breath Hub

In today's world, we come across many similar concepts and techniques when searching for ways to preserve our well-being: Mindfulness, breathwork, meditation, awareness and so on. These concepts are not only similar but also include each other and contribute to one another. Today, our focus is on two of them: breathwork and meditation. Together we will explore how they differ and how one serves the other.

What is meditation?

Meditation is an awareness training method that humans have been practising for centuries. While keeping our mind in balance and at peace by training our awareness, meditation makes it easier for us to cope with the problems we encounter in daily life and helps us maintain a healthy perspective. Shaping our awareness is possible by working on the mind. The working method of meditation is to observe the mind. It requires following the mind without any judgment, direction or destination.

What is breathwork?

Breathwork is an entirely different set of techniques that actually serve a similar purpose as meditation. These techniques often involve direction and control rather than observation. Techniques can be simple enough for you to do on your own, or they can be practiced under the guidance of a facilitator. Having an intention that serves your main goal and a clear consciousness throughout a breathing session helps the breathwork practice.

Breathwork can be used for therapeutic purposes in the long shot. It can transform major conditions such as post-traumatic and anxiety disorders, chronic fatigue, attention deficit. Patients suffering from migraines, cerebral, coronary, bronchial conditions and many others can benefit from regular breathing practice.

But the great thing about breathwork is that it can also benefit you instantly. A 10-minute breathing exercise in the middle of the day can recharge you, clear your mind, and improve your focus.

Breathwork vs meditation: Which one is better for you?

All these benefits are great news if you are thinking of practicing one of these methods to work on your well-being or to heal yourself of a specific issue. However, if you are not sure which one and how to start, it is worth highlighting some of the prominent differences.

In the yogic culture, our talking mind is sometimes referred to as "monkey mind". This represents the exhausting state in which our restless mind, whose primary task is to help us survive, constantly creates distracting thoughts. Meditation practice requires being a good observer and calmly watching this state of mind without judgment. This can be challenging and demotivating if this is your first time being alone with your mind. Your mind's job is to create thoughts, and it can be difficult to just watch without getting caught up in them. Although there is no ideal period of time and technique to meditate, the experience can initially be tiring.

Depending on the technique used, a breathing exercise may also require one to sit with their thoughts and passively observe their mind. However, breathwork is usually more structured, consisting of certain stages and directions. With the help of a facilitator, either in person or in the form of a guided recorded session, you can follow the directions and control your breathing. You just need to give it a try and get started, to work on methods that might be good for you. You will begin to feel the effects in a short time.

Another difference between breathwork and meditation lies in the chemistry and physiology of breathing. Of the myriad breathing techniques, there are those that calm your mind, and there are those that energize you. There are techniques to help you improve your cardiovascular fitness and those to help you sleep better. By manipulating the depth and pace of breathing, by alternating between chest and diaphragmatic breathing, by holding the breath for extended periods of time, it’s possible to target different results. In addition to ultimately fostering a similar state of awareness and mindfulness as meditation, breathwork works on many different levels enhancing physical, psychological, mental and emotional well-being.

It's said that breathwork is for people who cannot meditate. Perhaps, after adding breathwork to your life, trying meditation can even lead to a warmer and calmer experience.

If you decide to give breathwork or meditation a try, one thing to keep in mind is that you should not have any expectations about the physical or mental outputs at first and just allow the process. Find the right practice that makes you feel good and move on with it. And don't forget that whatever you hope to get out of breathwork or meditation, a dedicated regular (if possible, daily) practice will lead to a more rapid, profound and lasting improvement.

You can find many breathing and meditation sessions in Breath Hub, designed for specific situations, moods and goals. Pick one that best fits your needs and practice now.