On Breathing

Breath in. And relax.

Luckily for us, breathing isn’t something that we have to think about doing to survive. It just happens. Our body breaths for us. So most of us, probably just let it happen, and forget about it most of the time.

This is not the best strategy. Breathing is an important habit to make… voluntarily.

Through the act of conscious breathing, you can become more aware of your body, and focus, or slow the mind. Body awareness is essential because the body is the vehicle that you are in that keeps you alive and able to act on the physical world and it’s people. Don’t worry, someday, you will die. But slow deep breathing has a good chance of elongating the time spent on the earthly voyage.

There are many techniques available to learn. This guide has only one or so examples of breathing techniques, that may include the breath of fire technique, were one breathes in and out in intense bursts to raise ones heart rate, blood pressure and overall energy. Some people may vocalize as well to accentuate the affects. Some can also pass out or have a stroke if they don’t know how healthy they are.

Hara Breathing

Another technique is what is called hara breathing. The hara is the physiological, human center of gravity. Imagine, the human body has a specific shape, mostly all the same, outside deviations. As such, the human physiology is made with a center of gravity that resides, floats if you will, within the pelvic bowl. It shouldn’t be thought of, so much as a thing just yet, is it more like a place in space inside of your body. This is a good place to put the attention. Be inside there, and pull down on the respiratory diaphragm, just beneath the lungs. The diaphragm is one large muscle, and like most muscles, is under the volitional control of the mind and will. Another diaphragm in the body is called the pelvic diaphragm. And I bet you can imagine where it is, and how it may be moving, and relaxing deeply.

The slower the breath, the deeper the breath. To allow for the descension of the upper diaphragm into the belly, the abdominal muscles must relax and get out of the way, moving outward. This is often called belly breathing, and will make you have a “Buddha belly”. It’s okay, it might just help you live longer. You may even go so far to imagine the obliques, to the sides, and notice how they too move in and out, and relax.

Focus on the hara, breath into it. Allow the abdominals to relax as you inhale deeply.

The methodology behind this form of conscious breathing is to “simply” create a steady, slow, deep rhythm. The purpose of rhythm is to control the speed, or rate of the mind. The depth and rate of the breath, controlled by the mind conversely affects the rate of activity in the brain. States of profound thought, meditation and states of hypnosis are slower than normal waking conscious awareness. Often, a relaxed body and mind follow from conscious relaxed breathing, while erratic, or manic thinking and behavior are associated with increased respiration.

Oxygenation of blood

The lungs have five chambers generally. The right lung has three lobes, and the left two, this is because the heart is mostly in the left side of the chest cavity.

I’ve noticed that most people breathe only with the upper chest, lifting the chest up by the neck muscles, causing neck tension and headache, and slowing chi to and from the cranium, and brain. So, in this case, normal is not alright.

The upper lobes of the lung have fewer capillary (blood vessel) connections than the lower lobes. What this means is that the lung contacts the blood stream most in the lower chambers of the lungs.

Why is this important?

When we inhale, we inhale vital nutrients from the environment. The deeper the breath the more of those nutrients will access the most entries into the blood stream to deliver those nutrients to the body’s cells.

The more oxygen, and things, that the body takes in (generally), the healthier the body, cells and organs will be. And, the longer you may live.

That seems like a pretty good reason to breathe deeply, now and again.

You can, but don’t need to count, you just need to relax and follow the natural rhythm of the body’s needs.

If you are in a calm space, you may want to breathe without any effort. You can simply relax the mind and observe the movement of the breath without trying.

If you wanted to count, you could find, or experiment with ways to inhale, hold, and exhale in different patterns to achieve different results, with the mind and body.

When the mind focus’ on conscious breathing, not because it has to, but because it can, different things happen to how the awareness of the body, and the world, change in interesting ways.

Another important benefit of this style of conscious breathing is that you can practice anywhere, at any time.

Here are three good books you should read, of many, on breathing.

Breath Taking by Lorin Roche Ph.D.

Free Your Breath, Free Your Life by Dennis Lewis

Conscious Breathing, by Gay Hendricks