In all the religions,breath is considered to be the God within. Relevant verses of various sacred texts are given below:
The Bhagwad Gita in Verse 10.22 provides that ‘of the Vedas I am the Sama Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force (breath)’.
The Holy Bible in Genesis 2.7 provides that “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man become the living creature”
As such, breath is a God within and breathing right and in awareness is equivalent to remembering God. Right breathing will also enhance the quality and longevity of life. Awareness of breath is also a halter of thoughts because a lot of thoughts is the major reason of mental and physical health issues.
Also, many illustrations could be given of the relationship between man’s respiratory rate and the variations in his states of consciousness or health. Quick or uneven breaths are an inevitable accompaniment of harmful emotional states: fear, lust, anger. The restless monkey breathes at the rate of 32 times a minute, in contrast to man’s average of 18 times. The elephant, tortoise, snake, and other creatures noted for their longevity have a respiratory rate that is less than man’s. The giant tortoise, for instance, which may attain the age of three hundred years, breathes only 4 times a minute.
Breathing well helps us in keeping healthy oxygen levels as breath is the only source of oxygen for the body, hence, it becomes imperative to breathe properly especially during this epidemic as people suffering from Corona are not able to maintain saturation of oxygen levels. The reason for not maintaining healthy oxygen levels is not breathing right. Most of the times. we breathe till nose, throat or chest which does not supply sufficient oxygen to vital organs of the body, hence, our oxygen levels go down and we need more oxygen than needed to stay healthy and fit, both, physically and mentally.
Breath is also a bridge between our body and mind. When we breathe in awareness, we come back to the present moment. Our body and mind get aligned and as we are in the present moment, our thoughts reduce manifold and as we have less or no thoughts; we become calm, composed and peaceful. There are ways to breathe well and there are yogic techniques which are very helpful.Below are few breathing exercises and techniques which can be starting point of your spiritual journey and a life of equanimity which is beyond happiness and sorrow:
Be mindful of your posture, time and again erect your spine. Keeping spine straight and erect helps in better breathing and circulation of breath in the torso and vital organs. Put a reminder of some kind, such as, sound of a bell. A bell of mindfulness or sound of Tibetan gong/ singing bowl as a ring tone of phone can be helpful.
Do diaphragm breathing. Pay attention to your diaphragm, a muscular sheet between your chest and stomach. When you breathe in, particularly with deep breaths from your diaphragm, your abdomen rises. When you breathe out, your diaphragm pushes air out and your abdomen falls. Also, you need to manipulate your out-breath a little by making it slower. The out-breath should be longer than the in-breath. Time and again bring your attention to your abdomen and observe the rise and fall of your abdomen, and say inside your mind, rise while breathing in and fall while breathing out. Diaphragm breathing will help in reducing the need of oxygen in the body and with less oxygen appropriate levels of oxygen can be maintained. Again, put a reminder of some kind for doing diaphragm breathing or club it with the straightening of spine. Reduce the number of times of in and out breaths to 8 to 10 breaths in a minute.
Many times, take deep breath and hold it inside as long as possible and then, release and make sure that your out-breath is longer than the in-breath to help release more cardon dioxide from the body. If you are disturbed, worried, tensioned or thinking a lot, then, take help of diaphragm breathing, observe the rise and fall of your abdomen and bring your awareness to your feet and feel the sensations at the sole of your feet. Increase the duration of breath every time you hold it inside.
Body scan, a popular practice in yoga, mindfulness and in clinics for stress and pain. This is a simple practice that will help you become more aware of your body and relax and heal your body. The body scan can be done standing or sitting, but the best is done lying down. Very slowly let your awareness and attention move through your body, beginning at the head and moving to sole of your feet or vice-versa and one possible sequence through your body would be starting from head to forehead to eyes to nose to lips to neck to shoulders to arms to hands to chest to diaphragm to abdomen/naval to pelvis to legs to toes to the sole of feet and when bringing your awareness to the body parts, while taking an inbreath say, I am aware of my head, eyes and while exhaling say, I calm and relax my head, eyes etc. Do a body scan at least once a day, it will help to relax your body and mind and a relaxed being needs less oxygen.
Last but not the least, breathe mindfully as breath is God within all of us. So, let us find the God within and in others. Let us also honour each other and live a life of brotherhood and sisterhood because there is no religion above brotherhood and sisterhood.
(The author is a Life and Mindfulness coach at Sachetan)