The breath is our most faithful companion, one that will stay with us until our last moment on Earth!
What a profound friendship this is! It asks for nothing from us but unconditionally gives us the gift of every moment we remain in our body. Yet, our breath is that one friend we take so much for granted. Do we pause to bring this friend to mind and offer her our deepest gratitude? Hardly, if ever, we might say. Sadly, this happens when something is offered unconditionally.
At birth a baby’s breath is very precious, a promise of new life ahead. At the end of life, cessation of breathing is an indication that a person is no longer alive and pronounced dead.
So, when do we actually think of our breath? Oftentimes it is when we feel suffocated, traumatized, choked, angry, sad, worried, anxious or ill. There is an immediate change in our breathing. At these times our breath may be rapid, disjointed, fast, slow, erratic or stuck. If our breath is very rapid, we are asked to breathe slowly and relax, until we are stable.
On the other hand if we have survived drowning, escaped from a room full of smoke or have been in an accident, we are administered oxygen or mouth to mouth resuscitation, until we can breathe normally again.
Our entire life revolves around our breath. Scientific and metaphysical studies have proven that aware breathing is the secret of health and longevity.
There are umpteen benefits of conscious breathing. Besides providing relaxation, it positively affects the heart, brain, digestion and immune system. Research has shown that breathing exercises immediately alter the pH of the blood and change blood pressure to natural states. Meditation and conscious breathing rejuvenates cells to prevent/recover from sickness and trauma.
Yoga and alternative forms of healing lay a great emphasis on meditation and conscious breathing. This deeply activates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing the relaxation response to take over. Just 25 minutes of conscious breathing improves brain functions and boosts energy levels.
So how can we make our breathing conscious?
The easiest way to start meditating is by becoming aware of our inhalation and exhalation. This is called Anapana Sati (Ana – breathing in, Apana – breathing out, Sati – awareness), a process taught by Gautama, the Buddha.
The soul incarnates into a body carrying within itself wisdom and information from all lifetimes. It also comes equipped with free will and choice. When we are aware, we make the right choices and guide our self to follow them through.
Conscious breathing is a natural, non-invasive medical aid, given free of cost to every human being. This gift needs to be used if we want to live a healthy, balanced, vibrant and energetic life.
The process may seem difficult initially, but with continued practice, conscious breathing can become a way of life, almost involuntary.
A Process to Breathe Consciously
This process will help you reach your goal effortlessly:
Sit or lie down in a place where you will be undisturbed. Breathe gently and relax your body from head to toe. Bring your consciousness to every part of your body as you scan it with your inner vision.
Now take a few deep breaths from your belly, after a few seconds, switch to your regular breathing. Make your breathing as effortless as possible. Bring to mind some painful, traumatic or difficult moment that occurred in your life. Continue breathing calmly and effortlessly as you allow whatever comes up for you. Feel safe and held by the Universe, guided by your breath. After these memories have surfaced, acknowledge them. Now gently release these with every exhalation. Breathe in peace and healing.
If you do not want to do this on your own, request someone to hold space for you. With regular aware breathing you will be able to release the charge these emotions and feelings hold, though memories will remain.
Finish with deep gratitude to your breath.
Next, whenever you are in a situation that disturbs or overwhelms you, respond with aware breathing. This will ground you and make you proactive rather than reactive.
You will gain mastery over yourself and wellness of mind and body. Stay Blessed!