#59: How You Breathe is Who You Are
Master your breath, and you master your mind.
How you breathe is who you will be.
If your breath is quick and hurried, then so shall you be. Yet if your breath is calm, relaxed and steady, so you are.
Your breath is a powerful tool within you–your life force. It’s the breath you received from God when you came into this world.
OSHO Quote (Yoga: The Science of the Soul):
“We are breathing continuously from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Everything changes between these two points. Everything changes, nothing remains the same, only breathing is a constant thing between birth and death.
The child will become youth; the youth will become old. He will be diseased, his body will become ugly, ill, everything will change. He will be happy, unhappy, in suffering; everything will go on changing. But whatsoever happens between these two points, one must breathe.
Whether happy or unhappy, young or old, successful or unsuccessful – whatsoever you are, it is irrelevant – one thin is certain: between these two points of birth and death you must breathe.
Breathing will be a continuous flow; no gap is possible. If even for a single moment you forget to breathe, you will be no more. That is why you are not required to breathe, because then it would be more difficult.”
“You are fast asleep, and breathing goes on; you are unconscious, and breathing goes on; you are in a deep coma, and breathing goes on. You are not required; breathing is something which goes on in spite of you.”
- Purifying: Carries oxygen to cells within body + removes toxicities present in your blood and body
- Nervous System Regulation
- Change how you experience the world
- Sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight or freeze)
- Parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)
- Elongated in breath = sympathetic nervous system activation
- Elongated out breath = parasympathetic nervous system activation, suppression of sympathetic nervous system
- Equal in/out = balanced feeling, energized or lethargic (too slow)
- Change how you experience the world
- Depending on type of breath, can create “buzzy” feeling from flooding brain with CO2
- Breathing in through only your nostrils vs. mouth or nostrils and mouth
Maya Kosha Model (brief yoga lesson to help you understand the importance of breath)
Yoga says: 7 “bodies” of being or energetic layers of being within us–illusory sheaths. Yoga teaches that the way to end suffering is to move inward through each energetic layer or sheath and balance each within itself and amongst the others. At the center of these layers is the expression of our true light or self
- 1st is the physical body–which you’re quite familiar with
- 2nd is the life energy that makes things function in your body and holds things together – breath, digestion, blood/circulation; the vital forces
- Acupuncture, energy work, reiki, homeopathic tools affect you at this level
- Doesn’t ever stop
- 3rd is the Mental sheath
- Thoughts, Awareness, Emotions, Senses
- Shuts down temporarily each day to reset and recharge (sleep)
- 4th Energetic Body is power of your mind
- Wisdom, judgement, discernment, integrity, conscience and will, inner guidance
- 5th is the subtlemost body and is experienced as BLISS
- Super thin layer between our regular awareness and our higher self
- Often thought that ancient saints, sages and mystics experienced this, but people who have had near death experiences are said to have experienced this as well
- For most, it’s fleeting when it is experienced (possibly only at death)
- It’s where spirit and physical matter come together
- 6th and 7th are beyond asana or movement in the body but are affected by the other shells
- Involve your karmic essence and pure consciousness
Breath Control, aka Pranayama (Prana (breath) – Yama (control))
First level of awareness happens within physical body; the next is the vital life force – breath, digestion and circulation – those things we don’t have to think about or intellectualize, but that just happen. However, if you want to balance or develop the next level of your highest self, which is your mental body or nervous system, you first have to gain a greater awareness of the level that precedes it…your breath.
Alter state – whatever mood or state you are in, your breath matches it; which means that you can indeed learn to control your breath so that you control your emotional state
How do you do that?
Control where you breathe, add sound quality, delay or hold breath, change the timing of inhales and exhales, change the pace (metronome), change the temperature (cooling or heating), alternate sides or even breathe from just 1 side of your nose
Art that requires practice
YOU have to figure out what and how it works for your body–no one else can do that for you, has to be discovered instead of taught
Many different types of breath
- Ujjayi/Ocean/Victorious Breath, Box Breath, alternate nostril breathing, breath of fire, etc
Basic Breathing Practices to Start With
- Nostril Breathing
- Smooth inflow and outflow, only through nose
- May take practice
- Smooth and controlled
- Deep, full breath
- Into lungs, rather than belly, feel lungs expand outward and upward
- Begin with hands on rib cage to feel what body is doing; when comfortable, can remove hands
- 4-7-8 Breath
- Suppresses fight or flight response, daily preventative practice or in the moment to calm anxiety
- With tongue behind your teeth, breathe in through nose x4 counts, hold x7 counts, breathe out through mouth x8 counts
- Begin with 4 times, increase up to 8 times
- Slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure
- Health: Observe your breath–just watch it for a few days and begin to notice what happens to it when you find yourself in different situations; notice the rhythm of it as your states change and possibly even take note of it in a journal
- Harmony: Start integrating 1 of the breath practices I talked about today
- Happiness: By being aware of and beginning to intentionally practice some basic breathing exercises, you can improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, lower stress, enhance focus, calm your nervous system when you are being triggered
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