“What is the first thing you did when you were born and the last thing you will do before you die?” my meditation instructor asked us at our meditation and happiness retreat. “Breathe.”

As this semester’s retreat put on by SKY at OSU in March approaches, I wanted to reflect on what I learned and what I have learned since then. The retreat focuses on Sudarshan Kriya breathing practices, exercises to connect with your breath to increase energy, peacefulness, and happiness.

Since the retreat and practicing the breathing exercises at home, I have had more energy and felt more grounded. Lately, I have seen more and more articles supporting the myriad benefits of focusing on your breath. It increases attention, can relieve anxiety, lead to deeper sleep — and more. It’s also a resource we can always access even without an intense yoga class to guide us.

A pause to take in a simple deep breath has helped me when stressed with a big project, unable to sleep with a thousand thoughts running through my head, and when nervous for an exam or interview. During the retreat and at the weekly club meetings I have tried to attend after, there is a peaceful sense of community and we get to share our experiences; alone, I have had the freedom to explore more and focus more on myself (while trying to block out the honking cars outside my window and the kids running up and down the hall). I recommend everyone, especially us frazzled and stressed college kids, go on the retreat, or just look up breathing exercises on Google; ultimately, just remember to breathe.