The very first thing we do when we are born, is that we inhale. This is our first act and also our last act. All masters have at length deliberated on the subject. But we need to be wakeful and mindful about our breathing patterns and style.
We take our first breath. From then on, for every minute of our lives, we breathe. We take this miraculous ability for granted most of the time, because our body’s autonomous system does the job so masterfully – and yet, we can control the breath and in so doing change our state of being.
There are four sources of energy which sustains us. Namely food, breath, rest and a calm and meditative state of mind.
There are many benefits to conscious breathing – or the ability to observe the breath, not necessarily control it.
1. Physically, we can be aware of how our breathing brings life-giving oxygen to our organs. To generate awareness, we should simply notice as to what our breath is doing: as we inhale, we should feel the expansion of the diaphragm. Incoming breath energizes the body and the outgoing breath relaxes the body. We should become aware of this fact. This should be indelibly etched in our minds.
To stimulate the body’s relaxation response, we need to focus on a long, deep Ujjayi breaths( breath of victory). Here we feel the sensation in our throat region. Ujjayi breaths help in elongating the breath, also helps in the practice of Yoga and expels negativity from the system.
To energize ourselves , we should take deep breaths to empty your lungs of carbon dioxide and induct additional oxygen into the bloodstream. Infact we humans barely use thirty percent of our lung capacity. By mindful breathing we can expel ninety percent of toxins from our bodies.
We can undertake pain management through proper breathing. If a certain part of body is aching we can draw all our attention to that part and observe our breath. This coupled with Mudra Pranayama’s work as magic in reduction of pain and suffering.
2. Mind keeps oscillating between the past and future and is never in the present moment. The past is full of regrets and future is nothing but anxiety. This causes emotional havoc in our system. The mind can be brought to the present through the practice of rhythmic breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya taught in various programmes of the Art of Living. HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says,’ Mind is like the kite and the breath is like a string’. This string can be effectively used to calm the mind through mindful breathing .
Our breath is extremely rapid when we are angry, emotionally charged up or disturbed. However when we are happy and contented our breath is slow and deep. When ever we are mentally distraught , we should soothe our frayed nerves by deep breathing and focusing on the emotions. This will dissolve the negative emotions and thoughts.
3. We can practice meditation by first practicing Nadi Shodan Pranayama ( or alternate nostril breathing). This relaxes the body , muscles and nerves and then we can slip into meditation. Proper breathing practices assists in meditation. Meditation is an act of de -concentration where we should embrace all thoughts and never resist any thought or emotion. Because whatever we resist actually persists . Meditation eventually leads to mental sharpness and clarity and increased concentration levels.
3. Human minds are cannonaded by innumerable thoughts. This leads to constant mental chatter. Let us look at animals like cows who keep chewing the cud . The process is regurgitating. This is how we humans keep munching our thoughts and live them. These thoughts only magnify. Through mindful breathing we can arrest this tendency and we can reduce the mental chatter and bring our mind to the present moment.’ We are shaped by our thoughts ; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves’ says Buddha.
Profound silence dawns on us through mindful breathing and over a period of time unnecessary thoughts get dissolved. This happens when we are in the present moment.
4. Spiritually, conscious breathing helps to remind us that that energy is constantly moving. As Einstein famously said, “Nothing happens until something moves” – well, since energy is always in motion (vibration), then change is a constant in our lives! This is a truth which cannot be ignored.
5. Breath connects us to our inner self . This is our true and real self. Mindful breathing calms our minds , relaxes our bodies and we are in harmony with our environment and our existence.
Let us all practice mindful breathing.
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