“Breath and life have become synonymous. Breathing is the mechanism of life, and life is deeply related with breathing. That is why in India we call it prana. We have given one word for both – prana means the vitality, the aliveness. Your life is your breath.
“Your breath is a bridge between you and your body. Constantly, breath is bridging you to your body, connecting you, relating you to your body. Not only is the breath a bridge to your body, it is also a bridge between you and the universe. The body is just the universe which has come to you, which is nearer to you.” OSHO
6 THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT THE BREATH // Phil Liney
We’re talking here about deep, slow, controlled, conscious breath. It’s one aspect of what we know as “pranayama” in yoga. This kind of breathing practice has a number of benefits on several different levels. Let me mention just a few of them:
- Slow, gentle, deep breathing calms the mind. It shifts us into our parasympathetic nervous system – the “rest and digest” response. This helps counter the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous state in which we spend most of our busy, stressful lives and which is so destructive to our health and wellbeing. So whenever you feel stressed or upset, try to take three slow, gentle breaths and you’ll immediately feel the benefit.
- Breathing consciously brings us into the present. If we are watching the breath, we are in our body – in the here and now, instead of wandering off into the past, the future or the imagination, as we usually do. Which leads to...
- Keeping the mind on the breath helps us to train the mind – that crazy, out-of-control monkey-mind that jumps wildly all over the place, never staying where we want it to and often taking us where we don’t want to go. Train our mind and we transform our lives.
- Deep breathing energises and cleanses every cell and organ in our body. The breath carries oxygen via the lungs and bloodstream to the cells, where it reacts with nutrients to nourish and energise the cells; and the toxins and waste products are then carried away in the bloodstream and breathed out in the form of carbon-dioxide. Deep, full breathing maximises this energising-cleansing process. Empowering our physical body in this way also empowers our subtle energy body and fuels our spiritual momentum.
- When we pause at the end of each inhalation, and at the end of each exhalation, we experience a brief moment of “emptiness” or “nothingness” – a brief letting go, a momentary respite from the tyranny of the over-active mind.
- As the great Indian sage Patanjali, in his famous “Yoga Sutras” (book 2, sutras 52-53), tells us: by the sustained practice of deep-breathing pranayama, “the covering over our Inner Light is removed”, paving the way for deep meditation - the next step on our spiritual journey into inner space. Deep, mindful breathing is thus nothing less than the bridge from the outer world to the inner world.
I hope you will try it.