Day 7 on ‘Breath’ of “Meditation” Chapter
From ‘Remember’ Series
[Listen to the audio with guided alignment at the end]
Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life. It is so magnificent, which is why we are here now. “It feels so good to be alive!” Thanks to our breath.
With the intention to broaden our perspectives, let’s dive deeper into breathing by exploring the origin and meaning of breathing which might change how we think and how we breathe now..
The Origin of Breath & Spirit
“Breath is Spirit. The act of breathing is Living.”
According to Wikipedia: The word spirit came into Middle English via Old French esperit. Its source is Latin spīritus, whose original meaning was “breath, breathing”.
Thus, the word ‘Spirit’ brings the meaning of breath.
Explore Various Perspectives on Breath
[*Except from the book “Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy” by Stanislav Grof, Christina Grof, Jack Kornfield]
*In the ancient Indian literature, prana represents physical breath and air and the sacred essence of life.
*In traditional Chinese medicine, the word ‘chi’ 氣 refers to the cosmic essence and the energy of life, as well as the natural air we breathe into our lungs.
*In japan, the corresponding word is ki. Ki plays an extremely important role in Japanese spiritual practices and martial arts.
*In ancient Greece, the word pneuma meant both air or breath and spirit or the essence of life. The Greeks also saw breath as being closely related to the psyche. The term phren was used both for the diaphragm, the largest muscle involved in breathing, and for the mind (as in the term schizophrenia = literally, split mind).
*In the old Hebrew tradition, the same word, ruach, denoted both breath and creative spirit, which were seen as identical. The following quote from Genesis shows the close relationship between God, breath, and life;
“Then the Lord God formed man [Hebrew adam] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
*In Latin the same name was used for breath and spirit—spiritus.
*In Slavic languages, spirit and breath have the same linguistic root.
*In the native Hawaiian tradition and medicine (kanaka maoli lapa’au), the word ha means the divine spirit, wind, air, and breath, It is contained in the popular Hawaiian aloha, an expression that is used in many different contexts and on many different occasions. It is usually translated as presence (alo) of the Divine Breath (ha). The kahunas, “Keepers of Secret Knowledge,” have used breathing exercises to generate spiritual energy (mana).
*In the ancient Indian, the Sanskrit word pranayama is usually translated as “the science of breath,” which means “the ayama (expansion or manifestation) of prana (pra: first unit; na: energy).
Uses of Breath in Practices
*Specific techniques involving intense breathing or withholding of breath are also part of various exercises in Kundalini Yoga, Siddha Yoga, the Tibetan Vajrayana, Sufi practice, Burmese Buddhist and Taoist meditation, and many others. Indirectly, the depth and rhythm of breathing is profoundly influenced by such ritual artistic performances as the Balinese monkey chant or Ketjak, the Inuit Eskimo throat music, and singing of kirtans, bhajans, or Sufi dhikrs.
*In Buddhism, Anapanasati is a basic form of meditation taught by the Buddha; it means literally “mindfulness of breathing“ (from the Pali anapana = inhalation and exhalation and sati = mindfulness). Buddha s teaching of anapanasati was based on his experience in using it as a means of achieving his own enlightenment. He emphasized the importance of not only being mindful of one’s breath, but using the breath to become aware of one’s entire body and of all of one’s experience. According to the Anapanasati Sutta (sutra), practicing this form of meditation leads to the removal of all defilements (kilesa). The Buddha taught that systematic practice of anapanasati would lead to the final release (nirvana or nibbana).
“Respiration is an autonomous function, but it can also be influenced by volition. Deliberate increase of the pace of breathing typically loosens psychological defenses and leads to a release and emergence of unconscious (and superconscious) material. Unless one has witnessed this process or experienced it personally, it is difficult to believe on theoretical grounds alone the power and efficacy of this approach.”
In short, experience yourself to find out.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
How Nature breathe:
How the Earth breathe:
Your turn, how do you breath?
There are many breathing practices: Holotrophic breathing, shamanic breathwork; Pranayama etc. For daily use, try this now: Inhale into the belly with the belly expanding out and exhale with the belly in. This belly breathing increases the oxygen capacity in the body, thus it energises us more.
Sharing: Breath as Cycle of Life
Refering to the words of Simone M. Matthews:
There is the inhalation (a contraction), there is the exhalation (an expansion) and finally the space between the peak of inhalation/exhalation, the period of transition. All life follows this trilogy pattern of breath.
Earth’s 24 hour day is a full cycle of breath:
- Sunset is the inhalation, the movement inwards during the dark night of restoration and
- Sunrise is the exhalation, the expansion into the day and the promise of service in the world.
- The transitionary periods of Earths day are the periods of Dawn (before Sunrise) & Dusk (before Sunset).
Lunar /cycles also mirror reflect the Great Cosmic Breath:
- Waning Moon (from full moon to new moon) is the inhalation, the breath inward toward consolidation, restoration and renewal.
- Waxing moon (from new moon to full moon) is the exhalation, the expansion in the world and the presence of our light mirrored in the light of the moon.
- Both the New Moon & Full Moon are the peaks or transitions between the in/out breaths and represent the yin/yang polarities of the infinite all.
Earth’s 365 year solar cycle – marked by the Equinoxes & Solstices – reflect a full cycle of breath:
- Autumn Equinox to the Winter Solstice is the inhalation, whereby energy is drawn inward, within us and within the Earth. Animals hibernate, seeds sleep and spirit communes with Earth’s Heart for renewal, regeneration and healing. From the Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox, the days are getting longer yet we are still deeply held within the breath inward in preparation for our awakening and rebirth into our cycle.
- Spring Equinox until the Summer Solstice is the long exhalation, the budding, flowering and fruiting of plants, new life springs into action and a sense of joyful expression out into the world takes place. From the Summer Solstice to the Autumn Equinox the days are getting shorter, but we are still held within the exhale as we delight in the fruits of our labours and prepare for the inward time ahead.
- Both the Spring & Autumn Equinoxes are the pauses or transitions within the breath. The Equinox is where day and night are of equal length – the energies coming together as one – Heaven & Earth, Spirit & Matter, Mind & Soul.
Read more here.
“If you woke up breathing, congratulations!
You have another chance.”
Hereby, closing our ‘Meditation’ chapter, thank you for being here. May you breath deeper. Happy Full Moon!