Essentials: Breath Awareness as a Healing Tool
Breath awareness is our self-healing tool. Breathing is, unfortunately, an ongoing unconscious process for most human beings, by which we take oxygen and vital energy into our body, yet the most important process in our existence: Life starts with an inhale and ends with an exhale. Without breath, there is no life, and still, we take it for granted.
Are you aware of this process fully? Do you know the importance of proper breathing? Try to concentrate on this action only – taking a deep breath in and letting it out while solely observing the inflow and outflow of your breath. You will feel much more than just breathing. You will feel your body and everything that is in contact with it. That is how you come to the phase of enhanced awareness: from here, yoga healing & transformation begins.
Breath awareness makes it possible to recognize the thought and emotional influences on breathing and provides a strategy for relieving underlying pain and resolving trauma. In carrying out this inner work, however, you need to resist the impulse to control your breath and change it. Acceptance is the key to working with the emotional dimensions of breathing. In order to deepen your capacity to witness the breath, you must accept it as it is. It is this nonjudgmental openness that transforms breath awareness into an instrument of self-understanding and healing.
Accepting disturbances in your breathing implies actively accepting the sources of stress, pain, and negative emotion in your life. Acceptance is the first step in the healing journey.
Thought patterns & emotional reactions register in the breath in subtle ways. They can speed your breath or slow it down, alter its depth, change its quality, or manifest as minor interruptions in its flow. Becoming conscious of your breath allows you to witness these changes, recognize their importance, and slowly quiet them. The process of accepting disturbances in your breathing implies actively accepting the sources of stress, pain, and negative emotion in your life. Emotional threads in your life are subtly entwined with your breathing: Anger, frustration, anxiety, jealousy, sadness, and depression transform your breath. These transformations are not simply reactions—they reflect your emotional experience and the underlying causes of suffering in your life, as well as where your choices come from. They are the source of your discomfort.
Meditation & Breath Awareness
Meditation lends depth to the process of opening to emotional experience and its sources. In meditation, we do not simply observe thoughts and feelings passing through us like clouds in the blue vast space. We get to witness the substance and illusionary content of worldly life that is deeply rooted in us. Events that spawn our reactions—pain, stress, and emotionally charged incidents—enter into the stream of inner life as actual presences. Anger is anger. Sorrow is sorrow. Changes in breathing arising from these emotions become real and clear as well.
In meditation, however, the subtle disturbances and imbalances we experience in breathing are simply allowed to be. They pass through us precisely because we witness them and give them room within us. When distortions in breathing are witnessed in this way, deeper forces of breathing are awakened, and breathing acts as a healing power, gradually transforming us as it returns to its natural flow.
Breath & Physical Pain
The process outlined above can be experienced with physical pain as well. Suppose you have a horrible headache and wish you could make it disappear. No doubt your pain, combined with your reaction to it, is affecting your breathing. Perhaps your abdominal muscles have tightened, and, as a result, your breaths have become shallow; or maybe you have artificially slowed your breathing by overcontrolling it.
Turn away your awareness from your pain point to your breathing, open to its presence, and you will discover that breath awareness is a tool that can help you relieve your pain, both by relaxing you, addressing the breath to the pain point, and by taking the power away from the issue by changing your focus of attention. It generates a willingness to coexist with what is to approach it with a fundamental yes to life. It allows you to soften the way in which you unintentionally grip your discomfort and slowly let the pain move through.
You will soon find that most of the snakes that bother your breathing are not in the desert. They wait on pathways in your mind. They may very well rattle your breathing, sometimes before you’re fully aware of their presence, but they are not as dangerous as you might fear. By becoming conscious of your breathing, your unconscious reactions can soften. You may be left with some realistic challenges but fewer ghosts and shadows. Your breath is the life-giver and the healer, not only the needs of your body but those of your mind and spirit as well.
When we move with awareness of our breath, whatever we are doing, either body movement or any other activity becomes a dynamic meditation: this means that we are completely present in whatever we are doing, and we are in this moment only!
Breath is also a powerful self-healing tool. We can bring our attention to a particular part of the body, and the breath will follow that particular part of the body.
By engaging our awareness and directing the breath to a particular part of our body, we not only can lessen the pain but allow life energy (Prana) to flow into that space and rejuvenate it and heal it. Most of the time, wherever we have pain, there is tension, and the breath cannot access, so disease or discomfort arises in that particular place.
Becoming Present through the breath
Proper breathing can help you release stress and be more relaxed. It will also bring you peace and frees you from overthinking. From the moment your start your existence on this planet to the moment when you leave it, you breathe. It is impossible to live without breathing. So, if this is a so important activity, why do we neglect it so much?
Many people would say that there is no need to be aware of breathing or that it is just a loss of time. There are more important things to do, right? Well, this is not quite true. There is a great possibility that your life will be chaotic if you neglect your fundamental source of life: your breath. Take a few moments and just breathe. Feel your nostrils, the lungs, feel your body becoming full of breath and then release it. That’s right, become aware of your breath at this moment.
Do you know how people say to take a deep breath after a really stressful situation? Whether you want to cry or to yell, if you breathe properly, it will reduce the tension. But, every once in a while – take a deep and slow breath, then release any tension with your next exhalation. We usually have a sort of superficial breathing without swelling into it. By doing this, you will become present – your mind will be at peace. Every harmful eventual emotional or mental pattern can be broken this way. If you have a solution to an easier, more peaceful life, why wouldn’t you accept it?
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