Posts Tagged ‘breath’


Breath Of Life: Calm Power Through Natural Breathing

December 15, 2009

Breathing is the subtle sign of living power. Through breath, we receive all that is- and give all that we are. When our breathing is in harmony with natural rhythm, we find a deep sense of calm power which removes anxiety & stress, strengthens the body, clears the mind, purifies the energy within and enlivens our spirit. In this article, I’d like to explore with you some ideas about the power of natural breathing, and share with you some simple spiritual breathing techniques which will help you ascend to a higher level of being in calm power. Before beginning any intensive breathing training, it is important to consult with your medical provider.

“The wise seeker must safeguard his breath from heedlessness, coming in and going out, thereby keeping his heart always in the Divine Presence; and he must revive his breath with love and servitude and dispatch this love to the Divine, for every breath which is inhaled and exhaled with Presence is alive and connected with the Divine Presence. Every breath inhaled and exhaled with heedlessness is dead, disconnected from the Divine Presence.”

Adapted from a quote by Naqshbandi Sufi Master Shaykh Nazim Al-Haqqani

The Breath Of Life

Breathing is more than just the transferring of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is the subtle heartbeat of life itself- a metronome keeping us in cadence with they rhythm of living power all around us.

Inhalation brings in a rush of fresh oxygen which nourishes and empowers the cells, tissues, organs and functions of our physical body. It also brings in fresh life energy which helps rid toxicity and imbalance from our personal energy fields. In addition, proper inhalation creates spiritual connection to the world around us- sharing air with the world we live in.

Exhalation expels carbon dioxide and other unneeded materials from the body’s respiratory system. It also purges toxic energy and vibrational forms from the energy body. In additoin, exhalation places our signature on the wind and connects us in turn to all who share air with us.

In many traditions of meditation and spiritual practice, attaining a state of natural breathing is fundamental. To allow the body to regain it’s normal cycle of breathing in a proper way is to flood the body with living energy and ensure maximum energetic purity through exhalation. Yoga, Tai-Chi, Dhikr, Mantra Meditation, creative visualization and other forms of spiritual work all teach the importance of easy, natural, full breathing. Attaining this state of natural breathing is one of effortless receiving of the full power of life around us, while openly and without restraint ‘letting go’ as well.

Shallow breath, Shallow Being

Take a deep breath and notice which parts of your body move with the inhalation.

If you are like most people, your shoulders lifted or moved back a bit as you inhaled, your chest expanded and the position of your head may have moved slightly. These are symptoms of shallow breathing- meaning that the breath is being forced into the lungs by the muscles bear the lungs (shoulders, chest, neck, upper back, etc.). When we breathe in this manner, air-energy is filling the top portion of our lungs and is being ‘forced in’ to do so. This type of shallow breathing not only disconnects us from the full blessings of true breathing, it also mimics panic breathing and tricks the body into thinking that ‘fight or flight’ response is appropriate- thus causing general stress, anxiety, sensitivity and weakness.

Breathing Power

True, natural breathing is invigorating, empowering, and purifying. It creates a sense of well-being in the body and allows the chemicals of relaxation and strength to move through since the body feels it is at rest instead of in panic. Full breathing ensures fresh air and clean energy are able to move to every part of the system; removing toxins, bringing power, creating peace and strengthening all the while.

In Taoist meditation practices such as Tai-Chi, this state of natural breathing is often called ‘fetal breathing’, because it has the gentle, un-forced nature of a newborn child’s breathing rhythm. Throughout life, we learn to fear connection of others- and this effects our breathing. We get stressed, tired, hurt, and ill in different ways in our lives which trains the body to breathe in a protected defensive state. In no time at all this way of breathing becomes the norm, and a state of relaxed power becomes a distant memory for the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

Natural breathing takes some practice to learn, and some getting used to. We have often been breathing incorrectly for so long that breathing properly feels strange and even uncomfortable. With some patience, you’ll find the body quickly returns to its state of natural rhythm and you’ll begin seeing the effects very quickly as well.

In the image above, the action of the diaphragm is shown. The diaphragm is located towards the bottom of the rib cage, and its job is to bellow down to draw breath into the lungs. This is much like squeezing a turkey baster. When you release the bulb, the action of it expanding draws air into the tube- this is natural breathing. Notice how in this way breath is draw in, not forced in. This type of breathing also ensures that the full area of the lungs are involved in the process, allowing more oxygen and energy to have access to the bloodstream.

Here is my personal technique of practicing natural breathing. This is a practice- because you will need to consciously work this method whenever you remember, especially in times of stress, to train your body back into running this as its natural program. You can do this practice several times a day for 1-5 minutes, or whatever feels right for you. The more you practice, the more your body will remember and start using it when you aren’t even paying attention!

  • Ensure that you are physically comfortable, as best as possible, for all breathing practices. This helps place the body in a state of relaxation so the practice is easier.
  • Place one hand between the bottom of your rib cage and your navel, and another in the center of your chest- you’ll use these hands to feel if your chest is doing the work or if you are using the full power of your diaphragm. If you have been shallow breathing for a long time, as most of us have, you may experience some discomfort due to the diaphragm being out of shape. This passes very quickly with daily practice.

  • Start by making an intention within yourself to breath as nature intends. State gratitude for the intelligence and power of your body, and for the countless blessings of fresh air.
  • In active practice, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. As you go about your day, this will change as is needed by your body. Sometimes only one nostril will draw in air, sometimes both will. Sometimes the mouth will me more active and sometimes the nostrils. When you come to a state of attunement to natural breathing, you’ll be able to comfortably allow the body to do what’s best for it at any given time without thinking about it.
  • Inhalation: Imagine drawing breath in through the nose and down to your toes. Actively expand the belly like a bellows to draw the breath in. try to keep your chest from moving forcefully at all- the diaphragm can and should do all the work! The chest will expand slightly to accommodate the filled lungs- but not ‘flex’ or strain. The belly should turn into an ‘air gut’ as the inhalation peaks.
  • Hold the inhalation for a few seconds to get used to the movement of the diaphragm and the feeling of ‘being full’ with air. This may seem uncomfortable at first, but eventually will feel very relaxing and natural.
  • Exhalation: Making a small, relaxed oval shape with the lips, allow the breath to be exhaled by the flexing of the diaphragm. Again, the chest has no business doing this work- it will contract as the air leaves the lungs, but should not be actively flexing or pushing. The belly should feel as through it is tightening from within (the diaphragm muscle itself) and is gently pushing the air up and out.
  • Hold the lungs empty for a few moments to give them rest, then repeat.

You may experience some lightheaded sensations, extra heart-beats, discomfort, etc. for the first few cycles of breathing. If this happens, slow down and take breaks- allowing your body to resume its normal breathing habit.

The benefits Of Natural Breathing

Just a few of the benefits of using natural breathing, even when it is just a daily practice, include…

  • As the diaphragm moves with full power, the internal organs will be massaged by it. This helps empower the digestive system, helps remove toxins from the organs, strengthens the energy flow between all chakras and helps regulate fluids and chemicals within the blood! Super powerful!
  • The movement of the diaphragm, as envisioned by both Taoist and Vedic mystics, ‘fans the fire’ of the lower three chakras ensuring that life energy stays active and moving and does not become stagnant or impure. This leads to a greater sense of confidence, personal power, strength, stronger upper chakras and a general sense of calm power within the self.
  • Natural breathing practice creates deep connection to the Divine and to all life, thus opening us up to receive more blessings, guidance, personal empowerment and attunement in our lives.
  • Natural breathing increases the power of blood flow, detoxification, strength of organs and body systems, assimilation of nutrients from food, and much more!

Breathing With Purpose

Many ritual, meditative and spiritual techniques can be enhanced by specific breathing styles. Although this is a very brief introduction, those interested can use this information to begin deeper research into the possibilities.

Raising Power For Ritual Workings

Increase the speed of the breath over several cycles, using the mouth to both inhale and exhale. This moves the energy directly into the chakras of power, and helps create an altered state of consciousness.

Trance Induction For Journey work & Meditation

Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, slowly lower the rate of breathing as you relax more and more to a comfortable cadence. Focus the mind on the flow of air in and out, and allow the logical mind to float. Bringing your awareness back to the body after 5-10 cycles will connect you with a deeply altered state of consciousness and will also create a lubricated state for astral projection and deep journey workings.

Stopping Anxiety, Panic, Stress & Fear

Using the same practice we went over earlier, consciously move the breath in through the nose, into the belly, out through a slightly closed mouth. Allow the exhalation to take twice as long as the inhalation- which should also be slow and tempered. You may also choose to repeat relaxing words in cadence with the breath… In- Whatever Happens…. Out- I Am Okay…

Relieving Pain

Breathe in through the mouth and imagine the breath going to the place where the pain is. The within the mind’s eye that the breath in the form of light encompasses the pain in a bubble. gently and slowly exhale the bubble of pain. Do this several times, then begin simply breathing in healing, strengthening, empowering energy into the place of pain and exhaling any ‘bad energy’ from that spot. Words can be included here as well as you see fit. Make sure the exhalation is longer than the inhalation to place the body in a deep state of relaxation. Where there is peace, there cannot be pain!

Super Energy Charge

Using only the nose for inhalation and exhalation: close one nostril by pressing the outside of it with your finger. Inhale through the open nostril. Hold the breath for two seconds. Move your finger and close the opposite nostril, exhaling through the previously blocked nostril. Inhale through the same nostril. Move the finger to the opposite nostril, and begin the cycle again. In nostril A, out nostril B. In nostril B, Out nostril A. In nostril A, out nostril B, and so on. This creates a strong sense of calm power and high relaxed alertness within the mind and body.

Again, at the first sign of discomfort, allow your body to resume its normal breathing habit and take a break. If you have any questions about your personal ability to do breathing work, consult your medical doctor.

With all the blessings of the breath of life…

Joshua Williams