Breathing, it’s an interesting topic. To inspire means fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. It also means to breathe-in.
Stop for a moment, go on, just to observe how you’re breathing in this moment. Shallow? Just into the top of your lungs and quite quickly? Perhaps you have a cold, but regardless of temporary difficulties most of us – and probably 95% of the time – are hardly ever aware of this magnificent automatic life-supporting mechanism. So the chances are we haven’t noticed how shallow we breathe. We may be only using about a third of our lung capacity at any given moment. And when we are stressed we breathe quickly and use even less. The emotional stress is debilitating in itself but the lack of oxygen going into our blood stream creates tired limbs and depleted organs which in turn creates physical tiredness compounding the exhaustion. So, whether you are stressed or not take a few minutes to think about breathing consciously. At the moment there is a lot of talk about the ‘mindfulness’ buzzword and it all starts with understanding the breath. You see we don’t really pay much attention to the ‘automatic’ things in life, do we?
Those of you who do yoga are familiar with breathing exercises taking air down into your lower belly, into your Hara and have most likely become aware of the term prana too. Prana comes from Indian philosophy and is the sanskrit word which we call the life source. It means the cosmic, vital energy force manifest in all things, which the ancient Chinese understood and called it chi, in Japan it is ki and Egyptian ka.
Prana, is not just in the air we breathe, it is in the way we breathe it too. In ayruvedic medicine, which combines spiritual and healing as part of its methodology, prana is essential to spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health and it is also the life giving energy of the brain inspiring consciousness as well as the intellect. And the Essenes believed that it is in the moment between the ‘breathing out and the breathing in’ that all the answers to the great mysteries of Life are held.
Yogis understand that breath and breathing nourishes us totally and balances our central chakra system by giving complete life-giving spiritual energy to all parts of our body. By practicing yogic breathing exercises called pranayama some have taken this to extremes and live on prana alone. Breatharianism is the belief that it is possible for a person to live without consuming food. Breatharians claim that food, and in some cases water, are not necessary for survival, and that humans can be sustained solely by prana.
Here’s an exercise for you to do now as a mindful taste of how much better we feel when we really breathe.
Sit up with your bottom pulled back into the chair so that you are balanced on your ‘sitting bones’ with your spine straight and head balanced. Relax your stomach and shoulders as you allow your weight to sink into the chair. Place your hands on your lower belly, and feel it expand as you take a long slow deep breath in through your nose sensing the air as it enters your nostrils. Follow the air down through your body, with a sense of gratitude, experiencing the filling of your lungs completely and feeling the movement with your hands. Hold it for a couple of seconds and then slowly release the breath (some people like to exhale through the mouth – either nose or mouth is fine, its a personal choice) until there is no more by very gently squeezing your tummy muscles to aid the exhalation. Now pause again for a second or two, mindfully conscious of the magnitude of how we do this process automatically yet amazingly by design, without giving it any thought. Then allow the breath to fill you again and hold, and repeat several times. This is the practice for breathing down into your Hara. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually we have just given ourselves a small dose of good medicine. (I encourage you to develop this into a regular daily spiritual practice, if it is not something you already do).
When we are aware of the Hara, we are more centred, more grounded, more balanced. We are safer in our self, and safer to be around. By breathing calmly and deeply when we are worried, stressed, over-ought and stretched we can come back to our self with a calmer body, more energised and with a clearer mind.
You see, my point is that because it is automatic we so often forget that breathing air, and the physical support mechanism by which we are able to do that to support life, is all part of life’s great mystery. Just as we forget that all around us is a magnificent mysterious network of angelic beings, spirits, guides, elementals, nature devas, and the all encompassing beneficent support mechanism called, universal mind – God. We don’t have to tell ourselves to breathe to stay alive, it just happens. But perhaps we do have to remind ourselves to practice breathing more effectively for our health and wellbeing. Some of us continually ask, pray, and make demands from the angels and God for what we want for life to be ‘more’. We don’t really have to tell the Universe how to support us. If we believe in the wonder of Divine creation then God knows what we need to sustain life. But perhaps sometimes we might need to remind ourselves to practice living this amazing life a little more consciously, pay a little more attention to it. Perhaps try to live a little more gracefully. Hm, now there’s a thought to inspire.
So……. How’s your breathing now?