“If you can’t heal it with breath, try meditation.
If you can’t heal it with meditation, try exercise
If you can’t heal it with exercise, try nutrition.
If you can’t heal it with food, try herbs.
If you can’t heal it with herbs, try moxa.
If you can’t heal it with moxa, try acupuncture.” Chinese Classic
Internalized messages from our childhood, create the scattering of qi and mental, emotional, psychological fragmentation. By using the breath and breathing techniques, we bring these fragments together and organize the organism in such a way as to objectively watch our selves, observing and creating a ground for our experiences to settle into. We find our way to being gentle with ourselves, to compassion and healing for ourselves.
Rhythmic breathing is one of the best tools for developing our senses and subtle energies.Watching the breath – It’s not about being inside each breath and feeling it flow thru us. It’s about watching it rise and fall as if we are outside of it. The way we can watch/feel our own pulse – as an entity within itself – beating,, mindfulness. It’s not about spacing out and letting the mind go, dreamily. It’s being present and watching each breath, without judgment, in peace.
You have to look at intention within meditation. Why do we meditate? To bliss out or to become more aware, more objective, more unattached, more observant.
Isn’t our evolution about going from complete binding with our parents to binding with the universe and with God? From an inner attachment to a letting go and transforming with a leap a faith? From self-examination from a very self-centered place to self-examination from a place where we are not attached and inside the breath? Instead we are watching it, like the pulse, beating it’s own life, it’s own rhythm – it’s own noise.
I’m writing this because sometimes people don’t know what it is they are looking for when they meditate. I’m trying to clarify some of that. It’s watching the breath without judgment or joy, without being taken up in it.
Watching the breath, rising and falling in the chest. Being aware of the activity of the lungs, of the heart in the pulse.
This is the objectivity we wish to develop along with our emotional understanding. This, together, helps us to truly mature, from the inside out, with awareness.
This is the breath we are watching. Not to get caught up in the breathing. This is the breath we are watching.
Watch it like a movie – waiting for it to start, through the finish. Watch it like a story unfolding.
You cannot talk about the breath, without including Hindu
The breath, or prana, is the finest vital force in everything. It is visible on the physical plane as activity and on the mental plane as thought. It is the animal nature.
Pranayama means, the expansion of this vital energy. It is the activity of regulating and controlling the movement of the breath. It is the science of working with the breath. It mimics the conservation of matter and energy, which are laws of nature.
With pranayama, we become aware of the intimate nature of our breathing, our life, our vitality. It is the living aspect of life – our response and interaction with it. By manipulating our breath, we find, we enhance our inner strength, develop our essential character, and cleanse and purify our thoughts and actions so that we are living from a deeper source, more in touch with the essence of who we truly are. We get in touch with ourselves in a deeper place than our personality and develop the integrity to live from that place. In this way, we become in touch with ourselves in relation to the cosmos, in relation to universal energy, or as some would call it, God.
This is the aim of pranayama.
For the yogi, the universe is the body. The same matter that composes the body, composes the universe. It is the same vibration.
This aspect of our nature is the essence of cosmic life. It is the subtle aspect which has evolved the whole universe into its present form and which is directing it towards its ultimate goal.
According to the Hindu philosophy, there are 2 main substances composing all of nature. They are Akasa or ether and prana, which is energy.
Everything in the universe that has substance or matter, contains these 2 elements.
Akasa – ether is everything of matter, liquid, gas or solid in the universe.
This includes our solar system and every other solar system in the universe.
All the forces of nature, such as light, heat, gravity, electricity, magnetism and thought are known as Prana.
There is nothing new in the universe without these 2 factors in some shape or form.
Both are constant in cycles of ebbing and flowing. In this way, Pranayama, then is the means of training the body to mirror this ebb and flow of cosmic life. It is a way for the body to experience and harmonize with the flow of cosmic life and the flow or universe.
Working with the Breath
One can start by inhaling through the left nostril, holding the breath and exhaling from the right nostril.
This exercise alone, practicing daily for 80 breaths, will clear toxins from the body within one month., provided the practitioner is eating healthy food and
following a balanced lifestyle. It will strengthen the digestive juices, bring light to the mind, brighten the complexion and relax restlessness.
Another type of breathing exercise, to be performed when sitting down, is to inhale and exhale, rapidly, like billows tending a fire. This type of breathing, is called the breath of fire. It is very cleansing for the lungs and stomach. It can be done for 3 minutes at the start and work your way up to 5 minutes. All of these exercises should be practiced, at first, in a class with a teacher, and should be practiced sitting down, with the legs crossed.
A great breathing exercise involves using the diaphragm. You can perform this exercise while lying down or sitting.
The diaphragm is a thin muscle, which separates the chest, the lungs and liver from the stomach and the gut/lower abdomen.
When we feel stressed and any kind of emotional tension, we often hold the tension here. This effects our breath and so effects our total body mechanism
A simple and effective breathing technique to release tension in this area is:
Breathe into the lower abdomen or the dantien, as it is called by the Chinese.
After you have taken a full breath, breathe in a little bit more. This little extra, gets things moving. It is the yang part of the breath.
Now, without exhaling, pull in the diaphragm and out the chest. When doing this, the breath is naturally forced to the chest. Now, let out the lower abdomen and in the chest, still holding the breath. Continue this shift from the lower abdomen to the chest, back and forth, as quick as you can, until you can no longer hold your breath. When you exhale, let your breath out from your mouth.
After you have fully exhaled, begin again, taking a deep breath, into your lower abdomen. Then add a little extra. Then pull in the abdomen and begin the pumping motion from your abdomen to your chest and back again.
Make sure you are relaxed and seated or lying down when you do this exercise. When you are working with your breath, in this way, you are moving a lot of energy. This can create a sense of dizziness or lightheadedness. After each exhale, check how you feel. Be sure you feel centered and strong. Be aware and sense your whole body before you begin again.
If this exercise is done correctly, you will release any emotional stagnation you feel in your chest. Your creative and productive energy will be renewed.
Some people feel a surge of energy. Some people who are not use to working with their energy this way, may say things like, oh , they don’t feel so much that is different, but they had a lot of energy and cleaned the house or got a lot done that day. This is because the body is releasing the energy that is pent up and binding the emotions. When this energy is released, we find what we have been missing in our self-absorption.
To begin with, you can cross your legs Indian style, which is called the lotus position. You can also cross your legs so that you bring each foot in top of the opposite knee. This is a full lotus position.
You can also begin by sitting in a chair.
There are many other sitting positions to chose from. As you continue to practice, you will discover these postures and which ones appeal to you. I suggest you follow your sense of comfort, especially at the beginning. Keep it fun and light.
It is important for your relationship to these exercises to evolve as you evolve and for the level of difficulty to develop along with your abilities.
Your intention during this process, here is to allow your practice to unfold.
In this way, your interest and your capacity will unfold as well.
If you keep this idea at the forefront of your training, you will enjoy it and enhance your sense of relaxation and inspiration.
Breathing should be performed before eating, drinking , yoga, starting the day. It clears the mind. This way, we can clearly enunciate the nature of our determination and place it before us. This way, the mind is ‘directed to bring about the desired result’.
Creating a practice of movement and correct breathing changes your life.
Your health will improve
Your vitality increases,
Your digestion is more efficient,
and your mind is clearer.
You develop your ability to relax and enjoy your life, in the moment without fretting about what the future will bring or about the concerns of the past. You will find yourself dealing with your life in the moment of the moment life occurs.
Your life takes on new meaning because you are vitalized in the thing that matters most, which is, whatever you are doing right now. What is in the past is past and what is in the future will soon be present so you may as well work with this moment, now.
This vitality is not the same vitality you get from drinking coffee or from taking other stimulants. This is the vitality of the breath which is the vitality of life itself. It cannot harm you or weaken your health, the way other stimulants do. It is enriching and inspiring.
You will find, with this energy, you can learn to use it to focus your mind, your body and your strength to sustain yourself and enrich your life, beyond anything you have seen yourself do before. You will inspire your creativity.
The word inspire comes from the root which means, to bring breath into life. This is precisely what you are doing. You are breathing life into your life and so, everything you do is enriched. Your life is enlivened with a naturally relaxed joy.
You find yourself liberated from the bonds of emotional constraints and enjoying your life, moment by moment. Life moves slow in this place. Your body enjoys an innate sense of control. You are relaxed.
Think of it this way –
You can connect with your essence, the deepest part of your being
This is a way you can expand that part of yourself
You can live your life RELAXED and productive and enjoying it
Instead of being committed to a life full of stress, you are committing to a life of vitality and joy
Written by MaryAnne Bachia 2014
Quote: from The Thinking Body, Mabel e. Todd 1937
“To breathe is life. Without breath, we die. To breathe rhythmically is health but there are as much possible maladjustment in the breathing mechanism as there are in the arrangement and use of the bony system. The near-normal human being employs many of these and the neurotic most of them.
Movement and breath develop together. The diaphragm divides the conscious from the unconscious, the voluntary and the involuntary and the skeletal and visceral. It is the timekeeper of the changing rhythms of the various systems involved in living.”