I recently told my teacher, Rod, that the single most powerful practice I had ever done with him was not the complicated visualizations, breath retentions or the body contortions we Tantric yogis are so known for, but one of the simplest breath practice he teaches. Its called Pure Breathing. And its a game-changer.
Here’s the deal. Your breath has an inhale and exhale, right? Think of the inhale as one half your breath-circle, and the exhale as the other half. Take 3 minutes now to just watch the inhale and the exhale, noticing what your circle looks like.
Did you do it, or are you still reading? Dude! Go back and do it.
Okay, so did you notice that the circle ain’t really a circle. There may be parts of the inhale half that are rugged and jagged and scary and tight and totally weird. There may be parts of the exhale where you gasp or make a weird noise or just wanna run away. Don’t freak out – we all have breath gremlins.
Another name for this breath (from the Himalayan Tantric tradition) is emotional breathing. Here’s why: the yogis understood that the breath is a direct personal blue-print of your life experiences. Your tendencies, mental and emotional, actually ride along the fabric of the breath. The strong events, traumatic and joyful, that you experienced as a child sit on the breath.
Every time you breathe in, the breath sends a signal to your unconscious mind of your current state. These micro-imbalances get sent to the body-mind as messages, which can be positive or negative. So with each breath, it tells your body “I’m scared,” or “I’m tense,” or “I can’t trust,” or “I’m a precious jewel,” or “I’m a ball of love.”
Now of course the breath messages aren’t translated as verbal messages, but they do inform, to a great extent, the way we feel and the way we experience the world around us.
Therein lies a central precept of the Tantric worldview – we experience the reality “out-there” as a direct mirror of the reality “in-here.” The “in-here” is our energy. And the breath is a key indicator as to how our energy is flowing.
The good news? The yogis saw that we could immediately begin to alter these ingrained breathing (energetic/non-verbal) patterns that date back to our pre-verbal childhood. Any psychologist can tell you that most of the patterns impressed upon us happened before the age of three. So, ironing out, milking out, and loving out these little gasps and tensions and breaks in our breath can do wonders for healing our Spirit.
Here is the basic practice. I’d love for you to share this meditation like a mad-man (or woman) with anyone who you think could use some healing:
This practice continues to change my life. It is elegant, efficient, and easy for anyone (yogi or non-yogi) to connect with.