When we meditate, we don’t sit in empty silence because that won’t return us to the eternal awareness of the Soul. Instead we must have the right inner environment for the return to occur. This is provided by two things: OM̐ and breath.
So important is this, Just as the infinite Akasha, the omnipresent matter of this universe, so this Prana is the infinite and omnipresent power of manifestation of this universe. Sound came straight from akasha, and breath rose directly from prana. Because they arise from the center of the Soul, when their union is made, they liberate and allow us to return and fuse our consciousness with that center.
Joining the two, we go straight to the heart of ourselves and the universe. That is, we go straight to the Heart of Brahman. As it says in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, breath and OM̐ are like two sticks of fire. Fire clings to the two of them, but only when the two are held together in friction does the fire escape. The fire that we want to put out is the consciousness of the soul which is our true Self. In mythology it is said that the realm of Vishnu is guarded by two gatekeepers who guard the souls that are looking to the Divine Presence. It is a symbol of breath and OM̐ which, when combined, lead the yogi to a higher realm of consciousness.
In the realm of meditation, doorman / companions lead seekers to the throne room and then stand at the door to guard against intruders. That is, Breath and OM̐ lead us to the Chidakasha realm, the Sphere of Consciousness, and stay there from distractions and disturbing states of mind.
The Sanskrit word prana means “breath” and “life”. Breath is the only universal factor of life: all that lives, breathes. Therefore, the practice of meditation that involves breathing is found in many mystical traditions. The process of respiration is identical in all beings, consisting of inhalation and exhalation, expansion and contraction. It is the most immaterial factor of our being, the body-mind vortex. For this reason, breath is a natural and logical factor in meditation.
Breath and Yoga
The reason that breathing plays such an important role in classical Yoga techniques lies in the close relationship that exists between breath and mind.
Breath and thought arise from the same source
One of the most profound texts on the philosophy behind yoga, the Siva Sutra, says:
The relationship of pure consciousness to breath [prana] is natural” (Shiva Sutra 3:43).
The breath is a meeting place for body, mind and soul. The breath and the body are closely related, as is evident from the fact that the breath calms down when the body is calm, and restless or works when the body is restless or working. Heavy breathing when you feel tired and enthusiastic breath when you feel energized or happy testify to the same fact.
Holding our breath while trying intense concentration also demonstrates this. Breath, which exists in all manifestations, is the link between matter and energy on the one hand and consciousness and mind on the other. It is necessary for the vitalization and function of all vehicles of consciousness, physical or superphysical.
We start with ordinary physical breath awareness, but that awareness, when properly practiced, brings us to a higher awareness that allows us to feel the subtle movements behind the breath. In the end, we come into contact with the breath breath, our own soul. In many spiritual traditions the same word is used for breath and soul, underscoring the esoteric principle that they are basically the same, even though we naturally regard the Soul as the cause of the breath.