The Dalai Lama says it. Byron Katie says it as well. And the latest author I am reading, Jillian Pransky, proclaims the same in her book Deep Listening. Change does not come through thinking about something, but by taking action. Did you ever get excited about a new project, but overwhelmed by all the steps needed to accomplish that project? You start, think you have to do everything right away, procrastinate and then stop. Jillian says there is a better way and offers the formula: a little + often = a lot.
One of the practices she suggests we do a little bit each morning is to spend a few seconds/minutes noticing our breath. In this moment of pause, we are drawn out of our thoughts and into the present moment. From this place, we are better able to tune into what's happening in our external surroundings and internal landscape. As part of our process of learning and growing, she also suggests that while tuning into our breath we ask ourselves the question, "What do I need to know today?" and then allow the answer to simmer from within. By doing so, we can understand more about ourselves, the world and what's important to us; and move forward in our day taking deliberate action.
In Ashtanga yoga (which I have been practicing during my travels…a little bit + most mornings = a lot), practitioners perform a fixed set of asanas (positions) which they hold for 5 full breaths each. The five breaths allow you to feel into your body, so you can decide what adjustments you need to make in order to feel more balanced in the pose. Your breath is an important part of the practice, because by drawing your attention to it, you are bringing yourself into the present moment and clearing room in your mind to focus on the subtle sensations of your body. The goal of the practice isn't to perfect each pose (one might never be able to perfect all the poses in their entire lifetime), but to be present through the journey and to continually move in deliberate ways. This reminds me of the saying, "life is about the journey and not some far off destination." Reaching the destination (completing the practice) may feel good and create joy, but what is more important is how we act/behave to get there (moving in ways that are helpful/healthful to our bodies).