With the breath is the perfect place to just be in the moment. If you can observe your breath, just quietly feel the breath flow in and out of your body, then you are one hundred percent in meditation. When you observe your breath, your meditation is just the way it is supposed to be. You cannot intensify it any further. The reason why you need intensifying methods is that you keep missing the breath, you keep moving around it. But if you can truly watch your breath, then that is it. That is the ultimate path.
When you begin to meditate, you need methods upon which to focus. Those are the methods that we are talking about: How to choose your distraction, be in the distraction, and come back. Let us say you are meditating using a visual distraction such as a candle flame or a picture. A day will come when you will be getting distracted and then one thought, a recollection of that visual distraction, will bring you back to the breath.
There will come a moment when you will not even need that anchor. Every time the mind wants to go out, it will just come back to the breath. It will see the futility in going out because the moment it goes anywhere you just pull it back. The mind will think, Okay, there is no need to go anywhere because she is not going to let me go. And if I try to go, she is just going to come back to the breath again. This is why we need to meditate for long periods of time—to train the mind to stay with the breath and not wander off in whichever direction it desires.
You will stop observing your thoughts completely and just be with the breath. In that moment you will have completely gotten the control back from the mind to the body. From there you will start going deeper and deeper as your body merges into the surrounding environment. It is a long process which happens gradually. For now, just see how to be with the breath without thinking, without a thought. Just be with the breath and keep practicing. One day it will happen.
The breath is the best anchor: it is with you all the time, and you do not have to worry about forgetting it or keeping up with it. You can practice watching the breath throughout the day, so it becomes the perfect anchor. The deeper you go, the more you will realize that breath is not air; there is nothing there. It is just a rhythm of life that is happening. It is really not air that you are taking; it is just a rhythm, and through this rhythm you can eventually step into the state of meditation and bliss.
That is all the breath is. It is not that complicated. It is a very simple process, but it is very deeply connected to your thoughts, emotions, and everything. Every creature of existence breathes, which means it is a universal process. So, to begin with, try to stay with your breath as much as you can, knowing that if your mind does take you away, you can come back at any moment. Being with the breath is the beginning steps for a new meditator as well as the tried and tested steps of an experienced meditator.