My dear dragons and elephants, do you know how many times an elephant breathes? You don't know? A Japanese scientist found out that an elephants breathes 500,000,000 times in a lifetime. Isn't it fascinating? Of course, this is merely a statistic. Kindly, he does not say how many times a human being breathes.
Usually we say there are three essentials in life: clothes, shelter and food. Breathing, the most important essential, is not mentioned. Not only do we ignore our own breathing, but we often ignore the breathing of other creatures. Animate and inanimate beings are all breathing. Breathing is a most important dharma. Without this very body, the dharma can't be appreciated. We must be aware of how this so-called body and mind exist. It is the most mysterious, subtle dharma; everything comes out of it.
We humans usually breathe fifteen to eighteen times per minute. We may think that we breathe only through the nostrils or lungs, but actually our whole body breathes. When we meditate, the frequency of our breathing can slow down to one to two times per minute. A baby breathes one to two times per minute in the mother's womb. So when you cultivate your breathing, your breathing rate becomes just about the same as a baby's in the mother's womb.