The Art of Breathing

Have you ever noticed how your emotions impact on the rhythm of your breath? How when you are angry or upset, your breathing is completely different from when you are happy and content? When I practise yoga asanas that flow to breath, and I can feel my heart rate and breath starting to quicken, even though I do my utmost to keep my breath deep and slow, I feel very much alive, as breath, after all, is life. Without breath we simply have no life.

Osho has a very interesting take on pranayama, which in yoga circles are mostly referred to as “breath control”. Pranayama, according to him, is not breath control, but the “expansion of vital energy”. Think about the times you are happy and content. Not only will your breathing be mostly deep and slow, but you will also feel that you are in complete harmony with the world. As you start to expand your breath, you will get the distinct impression that your soul is also expanding, merging with the Divine, and your consciousness starts to expand beyond the struggles and concerns of daily life.

When we breathe there is a slight moment after each inhalation and exhalation where we actually stop breathing. This moment is usually so fleeting that you may not even notice it. In this moment, Osho says, we come face to face with death and the eternal. For that moment we are completely in tune with death. We are exactly in the same state we will be in when we die. If we can spend time, on a regular basis, focusing on expanding and prolonging the time in which breath is suspended between inhalations and exhalations, as well as exhalations and inhalations, we will be able to dispel the fear we often hold of death, and connect with our eternal soul.

It is in that suspended moment between breaths that our thoughts also stop. Both breath and thoughts belong to the physical world, while the moment in which we stop to breathe belongs to the eternal world. Try the following: sit in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes. Start to focus on your breath. Breathe only through your nose and feel how breath moves in and out your nostrils. Now start to lengthen your inhalations and exhalations. Keep focusing completely on your breath. When this is comfortable, start to focus on expanding the moments between breaths. If you focus completely on your breath you will find your thoughts disappear. Suddenly your mind is completely preoccupied with breathing. When you do become aware of any thoughts, you will realise that you have stopped focusing on your breath. So simply connect with your breath again. Do this for as long as you feel the need and see how it affects the way you feel and consequently live your life directly afterwards.

Notice your breath and appreciate the fact that you have life. Notice your breath and get rid of the thoughts that diminish your worth and life as a whole. Notice your breath and realise that death is not to be feared. Notice your breath and know that although life is filled with hardships, magic surrounds us all the time. Notice. . .

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