Working with the Breath
It is clear that our rate of breathing is closely related to our levels of stress.
The faster and shallower we breath, the less oxygen getting into our system and the more stress our bodies are under.
Science tells us the more oxygen we have in our systems, the better they function. We feel better, we think more clearly and we are in better physical health, which effects our moods, our sleep, our diet and how and what we think.
There are Meditation techniques that focus on the breath and breath control.
There are yoga techniques that focus on breath and breath control.
There are four stages to a normal breathing cycle.
Firstly, the inhalation.
Secondly the natural pause after the inhalation.
Thirdly, the exhalation
Fourth, the natural pause after the exhalation.
One of the most common structured methods is pranayama.
This is often used to ready yourself for meditation.
Firstly, you breath in and out through the nose.
You then place a finger over the left nostril.
You inhale through the right nostril.
You then, in the space between the inhalation and the exhalation, open the left nostril and hold the right one closed.
You exhale through the left nostril.
You allow the pause.
Then you inhale through the left nostril.
You then, in the space between the breaths, open the right nostril and hold the left one closed.
You then exhale through the right nostril.
This is one complete cycle.
Try this for a few cycles. It takes time to build up to doing many cycles, or up to 10 minutes of breathing but it is a great tool for calming the mind and becoming centred. This is a great tool for preparing to meditate.
Obviously, if you feel any pain while you do this, stop immediately and try again another day. Occassionally you may expereince head aches or pain in the space between the eyes, what is called the 3rd eye. If this happens, return to your normal breath and start again the next day.
This is a practice you can do anywhere, anytime.
Another very common and powerful method is watching the breath. This is often used in meditation to calm the mind and remain centred.
All that is involved is watching the breath entering and leaving the body, allowing the space in between the breaths as a slight pause. No controlling of the breath is required but you will notice as you become aware of the breath, your breathing will naturally slow and you will start to notice the difference.
Breathing is simple, necessary and almost always overlooked as a powerful tool of consciousness. It is happening all the time, its just a matter of becoming aware of it and shifting your attention from the thoughts in your mind to the natural rise and fall of breath in your body.
Focusing on the breath is a doorway back to Now. It brings you present when you find you are away from the moment and back in the world of time and thought. It is a simple, portable practice and it is always with you.
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Expansion and Contraction