Breath is life. More clearly, breath is our symbol of life. A body is considered alive as long as there is independent breathing or it’s kept alive with life support. However, when the mind no longer is independent, a person is considered dead. This demonstrates the importance put on breath and life. As well, breathing ensures many connections with our spiritual essence.
First, breath is intimately connected with our body and mind. It’s this mind-body connection that gives breath our integrated connection to health. We do need to breathe to have life. However, breathing exercises aid us in promoting health. Only a few minutes a day can help strengthen both your lungs and heart.
Techniques to slow breathing enhance the autonomic, cerebral, and physical systems. Breathing techniques are key to health, yet most of us have never had a conversation with a doctor about what breath techniques we can do to foster or improve health. Breath helps us heal from within. To begin, it’s best to breathe from the stomach than upper chest. The practice to do upper chest breathing has been linked to the modeling industry. Models are encouraged to upper-chest breathe because it brings the eye to that area and does not interfere with the industry’s desire for flat stomachs. Though the tradeoff is that the lungs’ capacity shrinks and breath is stymied. The end result is the inability to hold our breath for a decent length of time. For some, it also causes shoulder muscle strain because these muscles are held more tensely.
One exercise that helps counter the upper-chest breathing and lack of lung strength is a simple technique. The technique is to breathe in through the nose while expanding the stomach to take the breath in to the count of 4. Then hold the breath to the count of 7. Next breathe out through the mouth to the count of 8. For some people, this experience is challenging. If so, begin with the counts that are comfortable for you while increasing the number count as able. These numbers can be increased to a count of 8 on each part of the activity. Do only 4 or 5 repetitions unless or until you are able to increase to 10 repetitions.
Another way to increase health through breath is to breathe in through the mouth, tilt your head back, and whoosh out the air through your opened mouth. The activity releases energy held in the lungs, especially grief energy. Because each and every day has many changes, there are also many small to large experiences of grief every day. Grief is a natural result to changes. Though few will follow through with this technique (with me being one), you will benefit from doing this technique at least once daily and preferably three times throughout the day.
These are only a couple of techniques that support physical health. Try these techniques to improve your physical health and connection. There are many other breathing techniques that help strengthen health and there are a number of resources for such techniques available online.
In addition to physical benefits, breathing techniques also connect us with spirit. Many mantras and meditation sessions begin with a focus on breath. Focused breathing helps center and ground energy so there can be an opening to spiritual energy. When beginning to meditate, it’s often suggested that breathing becomes a focusing factor. This kind of focus then opens your core and assists in connecting with spiritual energies. For a beginner, the positive effect of awareness of breath during meditation begins the process of focus and connection. This breath awareness helps a distracted mind clear. It’s this clarity of mind that assists spirit to connect. Regular meditators use a variety of breath techniques to focus energy and to open to receive messages.
Focused breath and awareness of the deep connection between breath and spirit also helps the experienced meditator bring breath under such control that their breath is undetectable. This is a demonstration of practice and skill.
Even if you don’t want to achieve undetectable breath, spiritual relationship with breath creates a positive connection. Taking steps to connect with spirit strengths this relationship. The stronger the relationship with spirit, the easier it is to access messages and understanding of the messages received.
For the less practiced, the connection with spirit still exists. Spiritual breathing is an exercise that enables you to experience love and forgiveness with the Universe. Inhaled breaths are to bring pure energy in you, while the exhale is releasing the impure. While breathing in and out, take time occasionally to really sense the pure in-breaths and releasing the unneeded with the out-breaths. It is said all has been created by the Divine and man represents the greatest made from Divine’s breath. Since we can focus on the Divine as we breathe, we are able to connect stronger spiritually. Though to say man is the greatest isn’t my belief. Personally, all made by the Divine have equal greatness.
When on vacation recently, we went out each morning with tea in hand to honor the Earth. After finishing our tea we’d do our breathing exercises, then give the tea leaves to the Earth. We found as the days progressed more birds, especially eagles, appeared and our vacation experience brought a sensation of peace and connection. We believe by standing on the Earth while doing our breathing exercises, we strengthened our connection with spirit, which, in turn, brought other rewards to our vacation experience.
Spiritual breathing each day, for the length, amount, and way best fitting you, is a form of connecting prayer with the Universe. While doing spiritual breathing connection techniques, use your arms to heighten the connection. When you bring your arms around and up it draws on heaven’s energies. And when you bring your arms low to gather from the Earth, you bring that earthen grounding energy to your connection. As well, you can use sideway motions to connect with Earth, Sky, North, East, West, South, or however you determine. These differing movements bring differing effects. As you do the techniques and identify the movements you choose or choose not to use, pause momentarily to sense what connection you are reinforcing with spirit.