Breath fills us, empties us, feeds us, reassures us, sleeps with us, wakes with us, celebrates with us every day and night of our lives. It moves with us through every action, thought and feeling and yet, for many of us it is the most underutilized, ignored and unappreciated power. It is the life line, the thread that links us to God or the unified field. Some paths honour this and use the power of breath to bring harmony to individuals, groups and situations, to heal, to bring about states of consciousness and activate certain abilities. Yogi’s harness the power of breath and their skills are prodigious. For instance, by focussing on an organ or part of the body they increase the flow of prana (life force) strengthening and revitalising it. Breath can be used to increase inspiration, connect with one’s spirit, develop will power, balance inner male and female, balance the four bodies, build up potential to act and develop discipline on all levels, develop inner sight, cleanse and activate chakras, purify, detox and bring peace and calm. Did you know we pick up others’ thoughts and feelings through the breath?
Mystics know that good health is dependent on a regular breathing rhythm whereas shallow and irregular breath creates imbalance physically and psychologically. They say it is the breath which keeps the parts of our body connected to each other and feeds the mechanisms which maintain body functions. The quality of the breath, meaning the degree of fineness and regularity of rhythm, affect our mind. If you are agitated or stressed your breathing will be irregular and shallow and if you observe your thoughts you will find they are jangled and restless. I have often wondered how much the feeling of love and power radiating from an advanced being is communicated through the breath. Jonathan Daemion in his book The Healing Power of Breath writes: ‘Every breath you breathe contains the whole of the essence of you: the reflection of every feeling that washed through you here, the now experience, every feeling which has coloured your past as well as all of those which will fulfil your future. Every breath holds the blueprint for your own spiritual unfoldment and your eventual and inevitable enlightenment.’
The power of the breath for emotional release is phenomenal. A friend, alone in her house one night experienced a particularly violent armed robbery. It was traumatic and when I saw her a couple of days later she was calm, relaxed and empowered. We all know of someone who has had an experience of this nature and who is still shattered, highly nervous and fearful, unable to sleep or let go the experience many months later. My friend had taken herself off to an advanced Pranic Healing practitioner the next day who had removed the shock from every level of her being and enabled her to return to a state of peace and harmony. I share this with you because I was very surprised at the speed of this healing. It is appropriate to relate it here because Pranic Healing is a modality which uses the breath.
If I start a class with an attunement and a breathing practice it is always the breathing that changes the energy in the room. Participants may come to the class tired after a day’s work feeling scattered and a short cycle of breath work will bring focus and calm. It was a delight to do a whole 2 hour session on breathing with a class at the mystery school I belong to. They arrived slightly grey looking, obviously stressed, tired and out of balance. They were glowing at the end of the session all reporting on how much better they felt.
Most of us breathe on ‘auto-pilot’, rudely awakened to the breath when our nose is blocked! Few of us bring the breath under conscious control but this is of such profound benefit that my intention in this section is to offer some powerful short breathing practices which you can do while you are walking, travelling or just sitting. Some of us don’t have the time for many hours of breathing. I heard of a master who rises at 3 am daily to do breathing practices until 6 am after which he does a 2 hour meditation. Most of us are not yet at the advanced level where we only need 2 to 3 hours sleep a night but we know we would find benefit by conscious breathing.
The magic of breath flows in and through every experience. All we have to do is to become aware. You can notice the breath’s delicate movements and feelings as you read a newspaper, have a shower, watch TV, cuddle a child, cook a meal or fall asleep. As you become aware of your breathing your sensitivity will pick up two levels: first is the increased intake of oxygen. The second is the prana, the life force, which feels like the finest electrical current. You experience this when you breathe with one–pointed focus. Conscious breathing accelerates our progress. It is not only pleasurable and powerful, but magical, intimate and ecstatic. When we learn to direct it, qualified by intention, it can reach every person, animal, thing or atom in the universe, regardless of time or distance.
We have all heard the maxim ‘Experience is our best teacher,’ but ultimately experience is our only teacher so venture forth and try some of these practices which really work.
Remember clear intention adds power to the result.
Please note that in all these practices the breathing is done through the nose. The Yogi’s say this brings strength, vitality and health whereas breathing through the mouth makes us vulnerable to sickness. There are some advance breathing practices that use both the nose and mouth but they are beyond the scope of this article.
This is so simple you can do it several times a day. Notice how you feel before and afterwards and you will be aware of a change. Breathe in to the count of 7, hold for the count of 7, breath out to the count of 7. Do this 7 times. This is a quick way of balancing the four bodies.
TO CONNECT WITH SPIRIT
Breathe in white light through your crown into your heart and breathe out white light through the heart into your body and aura. Do this as many times as you need to. Think of the process as bringing heaven to earth.
BREATH OF RELEASE 1
When you feel yourself getting stressed, tense, hurried, worried, carrying some burden or your mind becoming overactive, breathe in slowly, hold the breathe for a tiny moment, then release into the universe what you don’t want on the exhalation. Do this until you feel clear.
BREATH OF RELEASE 2
Be aware of your natural breathing rhythm. Breathe in on this rhythm and breathe out on a short sharp exhalation. Repeat this until you have released whatever you need to.
TO INCREASE ENERGY 1
This can be exhausting but the results are superb and your whole body receives a boost, including your circulation and brain. Set up a breathing rhythm as though you are panting but through the nostrils not the mouth. Breathe in quickly and sharply and expel the breath with a push from the stomach and diaphragm. The faster you breathe the more powerful the results. I find it helpful to put my hand on my stomach. Try to do this keeping relaxed, make sure your shoulders stay down and do it for as long as you need to.
TO INCREASE ENERGY 2
Breathe in pure radiant white light through your crown drawing it into every cell of your body. On the exhalation, infusing the breath with intention, anchor the light into your cells. I usually do 10 breaths but do as many as you need.
Breathe in to the count of 4 or 5 or more. Hold the breath for the same number of counts, then exhale for the same number of counts. Usually 12 of these cycles is enough to make you feel peaceful and calm.
This brings you back to present awareness very quickly. When I do them with a class the energy in the room becomes focused and calm within a couple of breaths. You may only need to do it 3 times but it is more effective if you give it your concentration. Breathe in slowly thinking ‘I am breathing in,’ as you exhale, think ‘I am breathing out.’
This is an important practice and you can do it anytime. Many of us are so busy with minds on overdrive we lose our inner connection and don’t even hear the promptings of our intuition or guidance from spirit. As we open up our ability to receive it brings us into balance and we are more open and receptive to what is going on, within and without. It gives the feeling of connecting with all the dimensions in the universe, as if they have come to serve you. All you do is make the decision, have the intention, state your choice to do the breath of receiving. Do it for about 5 minutes. It can be an effective adjunct to your meditation time.
Imagine the breath gold or white light. Breathe in and out to a slow count of four. As you breathe in draw the breath to the specific area (or your whole body) which requires healing, as you breathe out, direct the breath onto the area. Note both the in and out breath are directed to the area. Do 10, 20 or 30 breaths.