One problem in meditation begins with one of the very first instructions we get in meditation. “Watch the breath without trying to control it.” Now, this is partly true. We are not doing pranayama style breath control. We are not forcing the breath to be a very particular pre-designed pattern. No artificial, outside patterns of breath. There might be a place for that, but not in meditation.
But we also don’t completely relinquish control of our relationship with the breath either. Instead, we take the middle path. We relate to the breath in a way that makes it as comfortable, as stress-free as possible.
It’s a little like training a puppy. You can’t try to force the puppy to do every little thing exactly like you want immediately. It won’t! You will both be stressed out and miserable. But neither can you let the puppy pee all over the floor and tackle the neighbor’s kids.
We relate to the breath in a way that leads to happiness, that leads to peace, that leads to the end of stress and suffering. But how do we do that?