There is a way of breathing,
That is a shame and a suffocation.
And there is another kind of breath,
A love breath,
That opens you infinitely.
From your very first breath you begin to embody your human experience, a gift of life. With an average of about 17,000 breaths a day, your breath is a miracle – a free source of chi, prana or life force energy. It naturally happens day in and day out, like the beating of your heart. Likewise the fullness of your happiness is contained in the potential space between each breath. As one of the CHEK Six Foundation Principles, breathing is key to experiencing the fullest value of movement in body, mind and spirit. There is no better teacher than your breath for inspiring happiness!
In this article I’m not going talk about the mechanics of breath and would refer you to the many other contributors to this blog that have brilliantly explained the anatomical and physical mechanisms of breathing.
I will bring to your awareness that your breath is your primary tool for healing and transformation that you can access anytime, anywhere. By bringing awareness and technique to the breath, we can generate a variety of positive results in all aspects of our day-to-day experience. By establishing awareness in silence and then performing action we “inspire” to liberate consciousness to fulfill its destiny.
The key to inspiring happiness lies in first becoming aware of the breath and its ability to infuse energy into your life by bringing its pattern under conscious control. Through conscious breathing we come home to the center of ourselves, the center of our own hearts, the space between each breath. In these moments, in the pivotal point of stillness, we have the power to see, feel and heal, to come to a spiritual understanding, a sense of purpose, emotional wellbeing and ease and excitement at being alive. The present-moment recognition humbles us, melts our hearts and strengthens our capacity for inspired happiness that rises from within.
90% of your happiness comes directly from what you feel at the moment.
There is a sacred rhythm that flows with each breath – the whole of creation moves in rhythm from the microcosm to the macrocosm, enfolding upon itself to circle recursively again. Your breath unites your individual experience with that of the universe. Since the earliest times, virtually every major psycho-spiritual system seeking to comprehend human nature has viewed the breath as a crucial link between nature, the human body, mind and spirit. Every tradition offers its own exercises in breath control.
The ancients believed that if we regulate breath, then we could control our minds. Since we breathe unconsciously for most of the day, what does this say about our minds?
Your breath directly communicates with the autonomic nervous system, encouraging either a sympathetic or parasympathetic response. Automatic processes of the body most always fall into the background of awareness. A stressed mind cannot find peace. An under-oxygenated body-mind will never feel comfortable or safe.
When we switch to a parasympathetic state, the pace of our thoughts slows; we become present, allowing for “witness” consciousness. Engaging the breath helps to unknot and liberate clarity and freedom within. Each in-breath fills us with life force; each out-breath releases toxins and stress. Through increased chi or prana available we are able to direct life-force energy consciously to expand awareness and integrate the body-mind.
The implication of meeting the unconscious and conscious aspects of the breath through breathwork and heart focus is profound and has promising short and long-term benefits. By using exercises to bring this function of the autonomic nervous system under conscious control, we acquire a powerful tool for balancing and improving the energy patterns in the mind-body.
Breath is the bridge, which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.
–Thich Nhat Hanh
The Institute of HeartMath suggests that directing attention to the heart area and breathing a little more deeply than normal provides a lot of benefits. In the space of the heart-centered breath, the energy and intelligence of source is transformed into accessible information and power, and inspires our inner most perspective, becoming a source of insight. Here, in the gap between each breath we discover the sacred space of love, of infinite possibilities and enter into the zero-point field where prana may ignite soul fired purpose.
So let’s begin.
- Whether sitting or standing, gently float your eyes closed and begin to connect with your breath.
- Softly rest your awareness on your breathing. Simply observe the natural flow of air as it passes through your nostrils during each in and out-breath. There is no need to control your breath or alter it in any conscious way. Just observe the sensation of breath rising and falling. Be aware of a spacious presence witnessing. Repeat for several rounds.
- Begin to deepen your breath to a slow, steady, diaphragmatic breath. Notice how the heart rises to meet the breath. Begin to extend your exhale to be a third as long as your inhale. Notice the flow of energy as it moves through your body via your breath. Notice the sensation of dissolving into the out-breath. Repeat for several rounds.
- Place your hands now upon your chest at your heart. Feel the warmth of your fingertips on your skin. As you breathe in, imagine you are doing so through your heart, and, as you breathe out, imagine it is through your heart. Repeat for several rounds.
- As you settle into three planes of breathing while extending the out-breath, begin to notice the tiny gap between the in and out-breath and allow your awareness to rest there in that space while maintaining deep diaphragmatic breathing. Notice the spaciousness of presence. Repeat for several rounds.
- As you continue to breath with awareness, widen the gap between your breath just a little by holding your breath at the top of your inhale and again at the bottom of your exhale. Notice how energy is building and expanding to every cell in your body. Repeat for several rounds.
- Optional Choice: As you continue through each round you may say the word “I” or “So” mentally as you breath in and with your out-breath mentally say “Am” or “Hum.” Repeat for several rounds.
Through practice you’ll cultivate a skill in the way you allow your breath to be modulated by your experiences—in the presence of all of the changes that human life offers. The next time you feel yourself in an uncomfortable moment, which could be as soon as this afternoon or evening, stop, and engage with your breath. It’s a love breath that opens you infinitely to the pure pleasure of the benefits of inspired happiness!
May All Beings Be Happy
May All Beings Be Peaceful
May All Beings Be Free!