Before we begin practice, and often during practice, it is useful to ask “what is the mind doing”. Sometimes, when the mind is restless, we are unaware of that. We can mistake this restlessness for a lack of focus. That leads to trying harder to bring the awareness to the breath. When the mind focuses narrowly on the breath, the breath shrinks of an object of attention, and awareness of the breath becomes less relaxed. If we pay attention to how the mind is, then we can bring a relaxed attention to the breath. ”The mind is striving right now. Now, awareness of the breath, slow and steady.” Now we have a relaxed awareness of the mind and of the breath.
Whether the mind is stormy or calm, we can bring a relaxed awareness. Easy on the mind, easy on the breath.