Did you know that the quality of your life is not measured in number of years but in number of full breaths? The calmer and deeper your breathing, the more peaceful, content, and fulfilled you feel. Every time you breathe deeply, you relax saying ‘yes’ to life and open up to new possibilities. There’s simply no way to live life fully without breathing fully!
The Latin word for ‘breath’ is spiritus, or spirit, because the breath keeps the physical body alive to allow your spirit—an individualized spark of Consciousness—to express and experience itself on this plane. But your breathing is much more than the instinctual neuromuscular repetition of inhalations and exhalations that keeps you alive; it’s also your mind in action and a God-given tool for self-healing and transcendence!
Every breath you take draws prana, the vital energy that connects your physical body to the other layers of your soul—the energy, emotional, mental, and spiritual sheaths, also known as your subtle body. Prana (also referred to as qi or chi in Chinese, ki in Japanese, and ka in Egyptian) holds those layers together even after you leave the physical plane; in fact, it’s the fundamental vibrational ‘glue’ that sustains the Universe and keeps it all together.
Although you can’t see it, it’s everywhere, animating all life within and around you. This vital force travels through an invisible energy grid of big and small chakras and nadis (channels) linked to your physical body that expands to the 12 dimensions of this planet and beyond.
You draw prana from the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat, so it’s important to keep them free from chemicals and pollutants. Excess chemicals and electromagnetic charges block its flow, as do any unresolved emotional issues and negative or fearful thoughts. Microwaves and radiation destroy prana as well. The amount and quality of this energy shows in how vital, vibrant, clear, and positive you are, since it affects all physiological functions as well as your mental and emotional responses.
So the more prana in your body, the more vitality, peace, and joy you’ll experience. Plus, since your breath is directly connected to the mind, if you master your breathing you master the mind. This is one of the reasons why the ancient sages of India created the science of breathing known as pranayama, for good health and longevity, and to quiet the mind to remain in high states of consciousness for long periods, to eventually reach Liberation.
Master Your Breathing To Quiet Your Mind
Breathing deeply and slowly grounds you in the body and in the present. The mind can travel in time, either remembering the past or projecting into the future with wishes, illusions, and goals, but your physical body, which is made of and belongs to the Earth, can only exist in the present. When you’re anchored in the body, no matter how fleeting the present really, you’re centered in yourself, feeling supported by the feminine, nurturing energy of this planet.
If you’re stressed or afraid, your inhalations and exhalations remain in the upper part of your chest, limiting the intake of prana—and of life. As you deepen and slow them down, especially as you exhale, your mind also quiets down, letting more healing and creative energy flow through you. This results in you feeling more relaxed and able to perceive new opportunities and solutions to tackle any situation, rather than letting your ego-mind run the show with pressure and anxiety.
When breathing becomes a conscious discipline, you quiet the mental chatter, slow down any emotional turmoil, and relax the physical body to heal, as you allow greater amounts of vitality through you. In other words, by controlling your breath you master the ego-mind and how it affects the experience of your life-movie. In fact, you can heal physical or emotional aspects with intentional breathing, because you direct more prana and love to them; this is what all energy healing methods do.
Now, you may think that you instinctively breathe through both nostrils equally, but you really don’t, and this is where breathing consciously can make a huge difference. One nostril is always dominant (that is, less obstructed) depending on the time of day, the day of the week, and the phase of each Moon cycle. So you’re continuously alternating fuller breaths between your left and right nostrils, which are respectively connected to the feminine, lunar energy channel or nadi called Ida and the masculine, solar channel known as Pingala.
When energized through a yogic type of breathing—which you naturally did as a baby but gradually lost as you grew up and developed an ego—these main channels crisscross along the main chakras, to nourish and purify them. But only when you breathe equally and steadily through both nostrils the main central channel known as Sushumna gets activated. This is the pathway for Kundalini, the spiritual creative energy lying dormant at the base of the spine. It must move upward, toward the crown chakra, for you to experience higher states of consciousness and bliss.
This, of course, requires a committed, continuous practice, but even just by intentionally balancing the Feminine (lunar) and Masculine (solar) energies within you, through your breathing, you’ll experience greater peace of mind, self-love, and physical health. So here are a few guidelines to get you started:
- Check which nostril is dominant when you first wake up. You can do this by blocking them separately to determine which one is less obstructed (if it’s hard to tell, breathe into a mirror to see the difference in flow).
- Lie down on the opposite side of the less dominant nostril to open it up (for instance, if the right one is blocked, lie down on your left side).
- Meditate daily using a technique focused on the breath, preferably at dawn or dusk, when Ida and Pingala switch and Sushumna is briefly activated. (These are optimal times for yoga or pranayama as well.)
- Remain aware of your breathing at all times, particularly when you’re stressed or get triggered, consciously deepening your inhalations and slowing your exhalations down.
- Discipline yourself to alter any negative mental state by breathing through the most congested nostril. If you alter the flow of breath, your chemistry eventually changes and negative mental/emotional states disappear.
- Integrate into your daily routine this basic alternate breathing pranayama (known as nadi shodana) to start balancing your left and right channels:
First, take a full, deep breath. Now block your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through the left nostril slowly and steadily; hold your breath for a second at the end of your inhalation as you block your left nostril with the middle and ring fingers; then exhale slowly through the right nostril.
Hold your breath for a second at the end of the exhalation, then breathe in through the right nostril; hold your breath for a second at the end of the inhalation as you block the right nostril with your thumb, then breathe out through the left nostril.
This is one round; do 10 rounds then stop to breathe normally. You can increase the number of rounds slowly as you become more comfortable with the process. Doing this before meditation will help you immensely. Once you’re very comfortable with this basic breathing technique, you can start inhaling, retaining and exhaling in a ratio of 1:4:2 (for example, inhaling for 2 counts, holding for 8 counts and exhaling for 4 counts), but only do it after you’ve practiced the basic level for a while and never force your breathing, especially the retention.*
Persevere until you turn these guidelines into habits and you’ll be amazed at the power of your inner resources to help you become emotionally and spiritually free, transform your self-perception, and redesign your life experience. Contact me today to discover your hidden divine potential and harmonize all the aspects of your soul!
© 2016 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.
* Regular pranayama is not recommended if you smoke, but you can still calm the mind by slowing your breathing.