The Ancient Wisdom of the Breath
(The first in a series of articles on the power and mystery of the breath by Donald D. Forsyth and Vijay A. Basdeo)
You can live for weeks without food, days without water, but how long can you last without your breath? What would you do without your breath? What do you know about the relationship of your breath to your health, not just your physical health, but your mental and emotional health?
There are mysterious powers associated with the breath that remain mostly unheard of in western civilization. The yogis of India developed a science around certain breathing techniques that, applied methodically over a period of time, would give specific results. They called this particular science pranayama. Prana is the vital force that creates various currents of energy in the body that control many of the unconscious functions that allow the maintenance of the physical body. It regulates the circulation of blood, digests food, affects moods, levels of stress, and these are only a few of the obvious things that are affected by the breath. There are powers that range from reducing the heart rate to enabling the body to smash through concrete bricks, from purifying the subtle body of impurities to healing deep emotional traumas.
The breath contains many secrets that have been explored by various cultures like the Taoists who found many healing methods, which helped lay the foundation of healing arts like acupuncture. The Taoists, like the yogis of India, discovered the existence of subtle meridians that exist on an energetic level and have an intricate and profound influence on the functions of the physical, emotional and mental health of a person. Reiki also works on a subtle level. When one lays their hands on another person as an open channel of healing, energy there is connected at the subtle level, which allows the healing of many afflictions. There is yet another powerful use of the breath, which contributes more specifically to the healing of the emotional body. This method enables a person to release the locked up emotional traumas that have been repressed by us, so that they stop influencing us from an unconscious level of our awareness.
This method of using the breath for healing deep emotional pain and trauma from our subtle body is called rebirthing. Rebirthing or conscious breath work is a very effective method of opening our awareness to the many influences that have been hidden from our normal consciousness. Much of our decision making happens in an instant. What most people don’t realize is that the output of information for that snap decision has gone through the unconscious supercomputer before offering up its result. If the unconscious software is infected with a virus of deep emotional trauma, conflicted emotion and emotions we are in denial about, the decisions can be self-destructive, limiting and contribute to a cycle of creating more pain.
Rebirthing/conscious breathing is a process that uses the breath under the guidance of a skilled breath practitioner. This process allows for the personal exploration into the unconscious emotional software and energies that are influencing you in ways that undermine your full potential. Many people are in denial about the nature of their inner emotional matrix and have an aversion to delving into what they think may be a heart of darkness. Some people are in denial about the fact that any inner problem may exist. Even if no deep emotional experiences stand out in your awareness because they are made invisible by the veiling power of denial, let me assure you they do exist. They exist from events in this life and they exist from past lives as well, influencing you in this life because they are closely linked to the karma of this incarnation. They have to be taken out of the darkness of your unconscious mind and emotional matrix and brought into your awareness, so you can release the pain and understand the causes of how this pain was influencing your life from that hidden place inside.
Many people want to feel love inside but instead feel numb. The reason for this numbness is because of denial and the many layers of past emotional experiences that block our access to the love within us. We are all worthy of love and long to experience the depths of love we intuitively know exist within. The problem is that until we delve into the emotional matrix and release from our subtle body the toxic emotions, traumas, pain, fear and denial, we will never get to the love. It is the entrance into the underworld of mythology in which the hero must enter if he is ever to regain the light of his tormented soul. It is our birthright to live life to our fullest potential, with a deep love and connected-ness to all living things, especially to each other.
This holistic approach to healing our inner wounds and getting in touch with the love that is the natural state of our own inner being is the greatest gift one can give to themselves. You just have to love yourself enough to believe you are worth it. It is the shortest path to lasting personal growth and because of the experiential nature of rebirthing it is very important to have a professional practitioner to guide you.
Using one’s own breath in a guided and controlled rhythm begins the process where a person begins to slow down the incessant chatter of the mind with its ceaseless array of thoughts. Over a period of several minutes, you become aware of many details, memories of certain events that have happened to you, the way you feel about a current situation, the physical sensations of your body and a deeper connection with yourself in that moment.
Somewhere in this process, a very mysterious event happens. You begin to experience yourself as a multi-dimensional being. The dissolution of negative and limiting thoughts and feelings that are held in the subconscious begins. These form patterns of behavior that create in our lives situations that we certainly do not desire, but may feel helpless about changing. These patterns are brought to the surface through the breath and the guidance of a skilled practitioner. As this process continues both the patterns and the emotional scars of past traumas are released. As the toxic emotions are expelled from our system our perception of ourselves and the world begins to be transformed.
You are not just this person, always thinking, planning, and making observations. You are also a feeling person, with emotions and with physical sensations deep within the body. This is where the real alchemy of the breath begins to manifest. In this amazing process of guided breathing, you begin to become aware of your total presence. You are triggered into being fully alert, alive, aware of your body, feelings and senses. You are conscious of the total physicality of your being as well as levels of emotion and feelings that can no longer be locked in or repressed, they now demand a release. And the release happens. Naturally and deeply, on a physical and cellular level.
After the completion of the breath cycle, the body rests, and a feeling of deep relaxation and peace is experienced. The calm and serenity that can be felt afterwards, is likened to that inner state meditation can draw us into. A sense of being at-one with oneself, with one’s life and with the world at large. This is the state of no worry, and no thought, full of peace and serenity and unlimited potential. We rest in the expanded inner space that reflects a harmony of mind, body and spirit.