11/05/2010

Breath: Bridge between mind & body


Nearby Forest
What is the single most important thing you ever do?

Breathe... more important than eating and drinking! 


You will survive for months without any food.


For a week perhaps without any water.

But without oxygen you only have minutes! We breathe 24 hours a day! But SO many people breathe badly - using too much energy; creating tension in their body; and not getting enough oxygen. I want to share with you here the three basic rules of correct, or proper breathing...







  1. Always breathe (whenever possible) through the nose. Inhalation, and exhalation! Guess what - that's what the nose is for!!
  2. Breathe from the abdomen. This means that you use the diaphragm, and breathe deeply into the belly. If you find it difficult (if you have a habit of breathing in the chest) then practise lying on your back. Put one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Focus on breathing so that your abdomen expands like a balloon as you inhale, and slowly sinks back down towards the spine as you exhale. The chest should remain still. Practice until you master it. Then you can try sitting up - it's a bit harder... and finally standing.

  3. Concentrate on the exhalation. Exhalation is active, inhalation is passive. When you exhale slowly and deeply, two very important things happen:

  • You stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (which releases stress from the body), and
  • You empty the lungs! When the lungs are empty, just relax the body, and watch as the lungs expand deeply and effortlessly.
This is the natural rhythm of the breath, the body, and the universe.

 When you begin to breathe better, every aspect of life gets better. Immune system, glands, organs, emotions, feelings, thoughts, relationships... everything is affected in a positive way. BREATHING BETTER is the fastest and most effective way in which we can improve our health and every other important aspect of our wonderful lives - and it's FREE!
Remember:
Breathe slow and deep, through the nose, into the abdomen.



Focus on the exhalation.

If you have any questions about this or anything else, please contact me. I am always happy to help.
 With love, 
Ben

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben, thankyou for this wonderful article on conscious breathing. I agree it's even more important than drinking water! It's right up there with life itself. I say that as when I focus on my breathing, and nothing else, I notice I am experiencing this expanded state (place of no resistance), pureness. Maybe this is on way to beingness, who knows....

Question- you may have some insight on - why do I loose this relaxed breathing cycle that I relish when I run, say 10km. I find I breathe 1 in (not so relaxed more like a sniff), then 4 or 5 out breathes. Hardly relaxed. Any ideas?
Thx sus

Your post reminded me I can be more ACTIVE with my exhale. Muchas gracias! I like what I heard a while back - some say that breathing is the way 'spirit' moves. I like that in-spirit-ation, re-spirit-ion. Or as another my teachers says "your breathing is the way LIFE moves through your body", Abraham 1991.

Ben Ralston said...

Hi Sus, it IS beingness (when you focus on your breath). That is why the ancient yogis (and many other spiritual traditions) place to much importance on breath - it is a gateway between the two worlds...

As for the question about why you lose the relaxed breathing when you run 10km: thanks for giving me an early morning belly laugh!
We're not meant to run 10km. Nature didn't have 'long distance running' in mind when she evolved us the way she did! So by all means, keep running your 10k, but don't expect that you'll ever be relaxed during or for a good while after!!
I can get scientific about it if you really want - when you run your body activates the Sympathetic Nervous System (see the article on relaxation for more about the nervous system). So you produce lots of hormones (which make you feel good, but certainly not relaxed).
Also, your breathing has to adapt itself to the requirements of your muscles for increased oxygen... so that rather than being able to relax, you are simply fighting to get enough oxygen to stop too much lactic acid build up in the muscles and be able to sustain the running...
Have you ever tried Yoga? You might like it - it can be a (very) dynamic form of exercise, but you can still be TOTALLY relaxed whilst doing it - in fact, it trains you to be more relaxed in any situation.
"your breathing is the way LIFE moves through your body" - absolutely. No breath, no life!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous!! This is great and pleased you chuckled!! I do yoga too and I am yet to get the same strength and expanded feeling. In yoga I am going to really focus on my exhale --- my sense now is I can get much more from my yoga than I am getting - thankyou greatly! Cheers sus

Ben Ralston said...

I've been practicing yoga now for 18 years. I find I can ALWAYS get more from my yoga practice. Focusing on exhaling is key. Forget the inhalation. Just let the exhalation be slow, smooth, deep... and the inhale takes care of itself!
Also, hold the poses steady. Stillness and relaxation in the pose, deep breathing, keep a little smile - those are my 3 main ingredients.
With love

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben, yes I imagined so that you ALWAYS get more. Thankyou for 3 tips. I am going to trial it for 21 days your 3 tips to see if I experience getting more. Thankyou.

I would like to ask you another question not directly related to breathing. But related to your first reply to my post - IS your beingness.

My question is when I am in this state I don't feel my physical form. I am alert, full but not aware of physical body. I had stopped this approach after several 'teachers' said I was leaving my body or others generally assert about me that 'i am out of my body'. What they were asserting never felt right to me as
1) I was not intending to go out and leave my body
2) I did not feel disconnected. Sure having no sensory of body could infer disconnection. There was no feeling of disconnection

so I changed my approach after going to Vipassana meditation. Not sure if you have experienced this method. Key point is this method has you after focus on breathe sensation on upper lip (anapana - not sure of spelling), start Vipassana and focus on physical sensation, observing, in equanamity. The result is kept me focus on physical, so no expanded state. But I felt oh this must be beingness, I can still sense my being, where with pure breathe felt pure unlimited consciousness. Do you get the subtle difference I am trying to highlight?

So now I just done Simon rose "ladder" exercise for beingness (see world in your palm) and I am wondering....
- in focus on breathe and feeling pure unlimited consciousness, have I left the body?
- in focus on physical sensation, as in Vipassana why does it not feel like the pure unlimited consciousness

if it makes no sense to you, no worries. If it dies, I would be delighted to receive any insight. People been asserting about me for 20 years I am out of my body.

Much appreciation
cheers sus

So if the other state I described in my previous post is beingness,

Ben Ralston said...

Hi Sus,
Your comment ends with:
"So if the other state I described in my previous post is beingness," ...
Not sure if you wanted to say something else?
But about leaving the body: I understand your question, because I have been through the same thing myself. For many years I was actually under the impression that the feeling of leaving the body was a good thing... now I know better! Because although it feels nice, you know what? You always gotta come back! What goes up...
I want to differentiate between two different feelings:
1 - Feeling SO relaxed, that the you don't feel the body: it's there, but it's completely at ease, so there is no body-awareness to speak of.
2 - Feeling DETACHED from the body.
1. is a good thing, and part of BEINGNESS (in my opinion)
2. is a problem, because it's not REAL.

Hope it answers you.
Love, Ben

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ben, all great. Your feeling distinctions were helpful. I sense I can get what detached feels like. Not experienced that though... I tried activating that 'intend detachment' and didn't get any different feeling-sense.

Perhaps I feel in and out there simultaneous. I am playing with this. Expanded state of unlimited, and at same time, very present to here and now. I have connected with soleira green, thanks to you. Brilliant !

Last typing in post was my typing glitch. Sometimes blog post 'box' doesn't allow me to scroll... I am new to blogs so I'll work it out. Thku though for clarifying.

Much appreciation, sus

bobzane said...

this doesn't have anything to do with anything but a few years ago I was very sick and had three major surgeries in a 12 month period. It was amazing how long one can go without food and very little water. they will put you in the hospital with the water thing.

Ben Ralston said...

Hi Bob, thank you for the comment.
It is amazing - my wife has fasted for 40 days. A client of mine fasted for a month recently on nothing but water.
it's a very healthy thing to do - but can also be dangerous if not done with awareness.
Many concentration camp prisoners died when rescued and fed by the liberating allied armies - their bodies were used to starvation, and the sudden food intake killed them. Unbelievable tragic, but true.
With love, Ben

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