Its the very first thing we do when we arrive and very last when we leave. From our first inhalation to our last sigh out, every day, every night; every moment of our lives we breathe, one way or the other.
And that is not all.
When you take a moment to observe your breath, you’ll find it always has a story to tell. Breath adjusts to literally everything that happens in life. When running, Breath speeds up to make sure the supply meets the demand; when stressed Breath become quick and shallow, and forces to take a step back; when relaxed Breath becomes deep and full, creating space to enjoy whatever else inspires.
When encountering something threatening, Breath tends to hold, creating time to assess what to do next, whether or not to engage with what is happening; be less present for a moment.
When happy or excited Breath inhales deeply, cherishing the life force that inspires..
In Yoga Breath is called Prana. However Prana involves much more than just breath. Prana is the life-force, the energy of everything (rather than the theory of everything) If it wasn’t for breath/slash/Prana we would not even be here.
Consciously used, Breath is a major Tool in regulating the life force. Just as much as breath guides, supports and follows in daily life, it can also lead to different states of being, allowing the rightful breathing owner, to get more out of life than expected.
All in all, learning to consciously use Breath and consciously experience Breath, supports and guides into new dimensions of awareness. The way you breath reflects the way you are.
Another fun fact about Breath is to realize it constantly cleanses you, breathing in fresh energy, exhaling stale; inhaling new life force, exhaling what you do not need anymore and it does so every single moment of your life.
Funny as it may sound, this particular function of breathing, inhaling fresh energy, exhaling stale, can also be used in reverse.
Several ancient practices in martial arts, yoga and other forms of mastering the elements, have known this already for thousands of years and have cultivated it into a meditational practice. The Tibetans call it Tonglen breathing.
Tonglen is the Tibetan term for give and take. You could say, it is a spiritual way of breathing. Different from using breath to inhale fresh energy and give a waste product back to the world; Tonglen is a practice where in fact the waste product is being inhaled, while the exhalation supplies the World with renewed energy. It is a way of processing hurtful, painful energies manifesting in the world and reversing them to supportive, comforting, loving, renewed life force, much like how trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Among other things, the aim of the Tibetan practice of Tonglen, is to learn about selflessness and to learn how to support the world in becoming a better place. Tonglen creates positive Karma, for if you learn how to give to the World and the World will inevitably return the favor. This is a basic natural and spiritual law.
So if you want to do the world a favor and help compensate for a particular situation, or even for one single person of whom you know they are grieving, in trouble or incapable of restoring their life; sit yourself down; take a moment to observe your breath, allowing it to become deep and peaceful; picture what you wish to heal in your mind’s eye, imagine it as a black cloud in front of you; visualize it flowing into your nose on the flow inhalation and guide it towards your heart.
Then from the area of your hart, visualize your piece of troubled cloud converted to loving healing energy and being transported out on the flow of exhalation, exhaling through your mouth.
You can in fact also focus on something that needs mending in your own life; inhaling whatever it is you wish to heal, through your nose, exhaling loving energy through your mouth, donating it to your life. For when we heal ourselves, we also heal others. In the Tonglen sense of the practice, we’re all apples in the same basket.
Ingrid Schippers, March 2017
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This blog is featured as spoken end note of the Dutchbuzz edition of March 14, 2017 as broadcasted on The Hague FM from 10.00 tot 11.00 pm every Tuesday or can be heard as a closing note at the end of the Dutchbuzz podcast of March 14 2017
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