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ON BREATH AND BREATHING: Breathwork By Any Other Name

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Shakespeare could have been talking about Breathwork in Romeo and Juliet when he said: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The point is, it matters not what something is called. What matters is what it is. Breathwork is a basically a modern name for Pranayama, the Hindu Science of Breath. Yogi Ramacharaka turned me on to the Science of Breath as a young teenager. (And by the way, on the very same day, I discovered Ernest Shurtleff Holmes and Science of Mind.)

That day in the attic of the American Red Cross building in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in a big way is why I have spent the better part of my life traveling, studying and teaching. My work has been to turn as many people on to Breathwork or Pranayama as possible. (What’s in a name?)

Breathing is more important than eating and sleeping or going to the bathroom. And breathwork is much more important than brushing your teeth, shining your shoes, combing your hair, or if you are a yogi- shaving your head.

What I am celebrating today is how the current medical scientific understanding of what happens when we do breathwork aligns perfectly with what the ancients said happens when we practice Pranayama.

“Prana” means “life force energy.” “Ayama” means “control or expand”

The ancient yogis controlled and regulated their breath in order to control and regulate their mind and their emotions. And just as the ancient yogis did, we can learn to use the body and the breath to heal the mind, and to use the mind and the breath to heal the body.

The essence of pranayama is learning to breathe energy as well as air, to gather it, circulate it, and direct it. I don’t always like it when teachers try to impress us with the use of esoteric language. Many of them memorize all the right Sanskrit terms, yet too many don’t really get what it is that they are talking about!

I am sure you have felt it. When someone just passes on what they heard someone say or what they read in a book. Compare that to someone who speaks from embodied knowledge and genuine experience. Genuine energy can be felt. And breath is energy.

I can tell you from experience that in pranayama, consciousness and energy come together as one. And speaking of pranayama, here’s something I read in a book:

Puraka means inhale. Rechaka means exhale. Kumbhaka means hold/pause.

By the way, holding the breath with full lungs is called Antara Kumbhaka, and holding the breath with empty lungs is called Bahya Kumbhaka. We could also talk about spinning energy centers or wheels called “chakras,” and how they coincide with various organs and glands and nerves.

And we could talk about energy channels like Ida and Pingala, Sushuma and the experience of Samhadi. And how they align with our modern understanding of the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways in the autonomic nervous system, and the experience of the flow state or being in the zone. But let’s save that for another time.

Today, let’s just focus on the basics. To play with the inhale the exhale and the pause is to practice Pranayama: the dance of awakening and unblocking, balancing and regulating your life force energy—and therefore your mind, body and emotions.

Here is a basic 15-minute Pranayama Protocol that you can use to get a handle on your energy first thing in the morning and get your day off to a great start. You can also practice it mid-day to avoid the afternoon crash. And it’s also a great way to end your workday and shift to family time.

The main thing is that it will get you on to the path of Breath Mastery which ultimately leads to self-mastery or self-liberation. I created this protocol just now for this report. And I invite you to practice it right now for yourself.

Start with Triangle Breathing: Inhale for the count of 3. Exhale for the count of 3. Hold/pause for the count of 3. Inhale 3, exhale 3, hold/pause 3. Do this for 3 minutes.

Then practice Square Breathing: Inhale for the count of 4. Hold/pause for the count of 4. Exhale for the count of 4. Hold/pause for the count of 4. Inhale 4. Hold 4. Exhale 4. Hold 4. Do that for 4 minutes.

Then do Circular Breathing: Inhale for a count of 2, and exhale for a count of 2. Inhale 2, exhale 2. No holding/no pausing. Do this for 2 minutes.

Then let the breath breathe you. Stop controlling/regulating the breath. Let the breath come and go by itself. When it wants and how it wants. Just relax and feel. Just be aware. Meditate for 5 minutes.

Finally, stretch and move, twist and turn, shake and wiggle. Do this for 1 minute. And then write to me and tell me what happened, and how you feel!

Welcome to Breathwork or Pranayama or Conscious Breathing or Spiritual Breathing. What’s in a name anyway…

I wish you much luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path.

Breathing in the Flow

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Breathing in the FlowI am reminded today that I’ve written an article about breathing every single month since June of 1976. And this month—although I’m a bit late getting it out—is no exception. Welcome to my October 2020 Breath and Breathing Report.

Breathwork is truly a gift. It’s a genuine blessing to the world, and this month I am celebrating that fact! People everywhere are getting turned on to the breath big time! Medical scientists, sport psychologists and corporate executives are finally waking up and speaking up about the real and practical benefits… And it’s about time!

As a small boy I was awakened to the spiritual power and potential of breathwork. And just before entering the military, I was re-awakened to the miraculous nature of breathing and I became a missionary for the breath. At the time, I felt like a voice crying out in the dessert!

When I talked about breathing, people would look at me as if I was from another planet. They would roll their eyes and say, “breathing shmeathing. Meditation shmeditation. Get a real job!” Back then, there was little to no medical or scientific evidence to support the fact that by changing how we breathe we can change how we think, feel, behave and perform.

But I wasn’t about to let a world full of skeptics and cynics stop me from practicing and preaching on every stage, platform, soapbox or rooftop I could find. I could not deny my own experience. And I could not ignore the fact that everyone who practiced breathwork showed unarguable physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual benefits.

Fast forward to today. We have the internet, with countless breathing summits, conferences and online breathwork sessions and trainings. We have tens of thousands of breathing gurus, instructors, practitioners, adherents and proponents. Everyday another book on breathing is written, another breathing app appears, and countless articles and studies are published.

Breathwork has become the key to performing in the zone, as it’s the quickest and most effective way to enter the flow state. No wonder it has become the biggest trend ever in the health, sports and fitness world.

Conscious breathing causes us to feel very awake and very alive, very connected, very focused and very centered. Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you that nothing beats the peak experience of being ‘in the flow’ and performing ‘in the zone’. The rush of those high octane, record-breaking moments is extremely appealing—and even addictive.

The flow state and being in the zone is always connected to an activity or competition of some kind. It’s always understood in terms of the role it plays in overcoming physical or psychological barriers, breaking world records, demonstrating amazing abilities, or accomplishing superhuman (egoic) feats.

And so, this month I’d like to focus on something to be found beyond all the performance benefits of being in the flow. And that is in the potential it has for triggering and transcendence, self-realization, enlightenment, and a state of “Pure Being.”

This month, I suggest that you explore the flow state and being in the zone in a way that is not connected to performing, whether as an expert marksman, elite martial artist, marathoner, gladiator, gold medalist, or sex god. I suggest instead that you practice breathwork as a way of simply being in the flow, or simply being in the zone.

I often invite my clients and students to: “lay down, relax, and breathe as if you are running full speed up a hill.” When you’re actually running up a hill, you don’t have to make yourself breathe. Your body automatically turns your breathing up to meet the extra energy demand.

Practice relaxing completely and keep relaxing more and more with every breath. Breathe in a powerful, passionate and enthusiastic way—but not with effort or force. Since there is no muscular effort, activity, or metabolic demand, your body will try to make you stop the extra breathing. But if you can override this normal chemical/biological reaction, and keep breathing in spite of it, then something remarkable can begin to happen in you.

If you keep generating energy with the breath even though your body doesn’t need it, that energy has to go somewhere, it has to do something. And it does: it triggers profound emotional healing and psychological growth, spiritual transformation and evolution.

Because the body doesn’t need the energy for physical work, it is available to open our hearts and to open subtle doors of perception. It burns away karma and trauma and our negative and limiting thoughts and beliefs. It opens our heart and expands our consciousness!

Try it. Lie down and deliberately relax every muscle and every joint in your body. Then begin to ‘ramp up’ the breathing as if you are running full speed up a hill. Maintain your meditative awareness and don’t “do” anything except breathe and relax and feel the energy.

Spend time just being in this energy, simply enjoying the electricity, the vibrations, the tingling, the delightful expansive sparkling flowing feelings of aliveness. See how this awakens a deeper connection to yourself and to others. See how it deepens your connection to life, nature, your Source, and to your sacred mission and purpose in life.

Use your breath to awaken a tsunami of life force energy. And then simply relax into it. Bathe in it. Melt into it. Merge with it. Ride it. Don’t think. Don’t act. Don’t do… Just be. No goal. No seeking. No trying. No doing… Just the experience of Pure Ecstatic Being.

This month I invite you to Breathe in the Flow!

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

THE PRACTICE OF BREATHWORK: 3 COACHING QUESTIONS

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I’ve been wondering what to write about this month and couldn’t decide, and so I want to thank Eric, one of our practitioner candidates, for sending me these questions and giving me a topic for this breathing report!

Here are his questions:

Nasal breathing versus the sigh of relief and yawning. After I read Nestor, Litchfield and McKeown, I catch myself refraining from sighing and yawning now. Gosh! I am going to lose this precious CO2! I also stopped doing connected breathing through the mouth. Do I have to breathe through the nose as often as I am aware of, and give myself a little treat with sighing and yawning? Is connected breathing through the mouth reserved for a breathing session?

Coherent Breathing and resistance breathing. When I do coherent breathing through the nose on an in 4/out 8 or in 5/ out 10 pattern (and I will try 6/12 soon), I combine it with resistance breathing (ujjayi). It allows a much deeper and longer exhale than just nasal breathing. Is this ok?

Peter Litchfield speaks about ‘negative practice’: to be conscious and become ‘expert’ in a bad breathing habit (chest breathing) when this habit is triggered by a relationship or a situation. Then, we will be able to switch automatically to the ‘preferred’ diaphragmatic breathing. Do I need to be conscious of an emotion rising up, triggered by a situation AND of the changing breathing pattern at the same time (chest breathing)? to be able to switch to a new healthier pattern?

Ok, first let’s talk about Nasal breathing vs the sigh of relief and yawning. Nasal breathing should be our natural unconscious automatic habitual breathing pattern. And we also need to practice deliberately enjoying and celebrating our sighs of relief and our yawns.

When we breathe through the mouth, it should be done consciously, for a purpose, as an exercise or technique. This is very different from an unconscious dysfunctional habit. Nestor, Litchfield and McKeown are focused on the physiological, chemical, and the balancing and stabilizing end of the breathwork spectrum. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the spiritual, transformational, cathartic, and energizing practices.

Unless you have a specific related health condition, there is no reason to avoid practicing in either or both directions. In fact, as Breathworkers, we need to be experienced and comfortable across the whole spectrum, including both extremes. And as Breathworkers, we need to be able to correct any imbalance in either direction. We need to master the ability to quickly breathe our way back into balance, no matter where we are, who we’re with, what’s happening, or how we feel.

When we do a Connected Breathing session, we get to choose which channel we breathe through, and/or we can let the breath itself decide. And, in a single session, we may find ourselves switching back and forth between the two, and so we need to be comfortable with both channels.

About coherent breathing and resistance breathing. ‘Coherent Breathing’ is defined by Dr. Stephen Elliott—who actually trademarked the term—as “Breathing at a nominal frequency of five breaths per minute with comfortable depth AND conscious relaxation…

Notice that 5 breaths per minute is a 6 second inhale and a 6 second exhale—in other words, a 12 second breathing cycle. Another pioneer and expert on this subject is Dr. David O’Hare (Author of 365: Heart Coherence). He teaches us to practice 6 breaths per minute. That’s a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale. So, I think we can see that Coherent Breathing involves a specific range/rate which we can call a therapeutic zone.

If you practice a 4 second inhale and a 6 second exhale, that’s a ten second breathing cycle, so are still breathing at a rate of 6 breaths per minute. This is a very useful practice. You are in the therapeutic zone. But some would say you can’t call it “coherent breathing.”

Inhaling 6 seconds and exhaling 12 seconds, is an 18 second breathing cycle, which is 3.3 breaths per minute—pretty slow for the average untrained person, and it is outside the coherent breathing range. Yet, this is still a very good, healthy, and useful practice.

And yes, it’s a good idea to combine the Ujjayi sound when practicing coherent breathing. It enhances the benefits. And it’s good to integrate Ujjayi into many other breathwork exercises, techniques and meditations, for the same reason.

Finally, Dr Litchfield’s concept of “Negative Practice” is a great training principle. When we make our unconscious habits conscious—when we deliberately breathe in a dysfunctional way—we can more easily feel and recognize that negative behavior when it happens, and we can more easily correct it.

And yes, as Breathworkers we need to be conscious of our emotions when they arise and conscious of what triggers them. We need to be aware of how we actually breathe when we are caught up in emotions, in order to know how to adjust our breathing to shift, manage, or transform our emotional energy.

We can use breathwork to enhance and intensify emotions, as well as to lessen or suppress them. We become aware of our unconscious breathing patterns in order to take conscious responsibility for our emotional experiences. In a real sense, breath control is emotional control.

By the way, I wrote about all this in my November 2019 article called “The Battle Over Breath.” You may want to review it. And here is an interview with Stephen Elliott about Coherent Breathing.https://www.bmedreport.com/archives/10310

 

SQUEEZE AND BREATHE

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My friend Mike White at breathing.com uses this phrase to describe his approach to the practice of optimal breathing.

Andrew Weil in one of his breathing courses says this: “put the exhale first.”

Dr. Peter Litchfield, my go to guy for breathing chemistry and respiratory physiology, warns us against “aborting” the exhale–which means not cutting your exhale short. Make sure that you exhale fully.

In traditional Pranayama, the ancient yogis taught us that the exhale actually comes first. The idea being that before you can take in a full breath, you first have to empty yourself completely.

So, this month, I’d like you to focus on your exhale. Practice actively extending your exhale. Squeezing out all the breath, and then allowing the inhale to be passive or reflexive.

Try it right now.

Take in a normal inhale and a normal exhale.

And before you inhale again, simply take the exhale further. Try to empty all the air out of your lungs.

Feel your belly button traveling toward your spine as you actively squeeze all the air out. And then, relax and let the inhale come in by itself.

Keep practicing this.

The exhale should take longer than the inhale–at least twice as long.

The exhale is active. You are deliberately doing the exhale. You are actively emptying yourself. Squeezing all the air out.

The inhale is passive. Notice how the inhale is automatic or reflexive. You are letting the body do the inhale. It happens by itself.

Some people like to use a ‘shushing” sound on the exhale, and some like to exhale through pursed lips. Others like to hum or tone, or use sounds like “haaah” or “hooo”.

It’s up to you. Play with it. You can breathe in and out the nose, or you can breathe in the nose and out the mouth. Experiment. Discover what is comfortable and what is challenging.

Think of the bellows or an accordion, and how when you squeeze the handles together, you force air out. And when you open, stretch or expand the handles, air is drawn in.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, and are comfortable with the feeling of it, then begin to play with speed and rhythm. Start off slowly and deliberately, and then practice breathing more rapidly.

You are beginning to understand how the “Thoracic Pump” you were born with works.

You can begin to feel how your heart and brain are fueled and supported by the working of your diaphragm.

And you can begin to experience how the circulation of blood, lymph, and even spinal fluids, are all enhanced.

Once you master this skill or practice, you can build on it, to increase your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Your breathing strength improves, and you naturally develop more stamina, endurance, for overall performance in sports, fitness, and everyday life!

Breathwork Training is Preventive Medicine for the Twenty-First Century

By | Blog

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Everyone breathes but unfortunately very few people breathe very well. That’s why Breathing Training is becoming more popular than yoga and meditation! And that’s why it’s the fastest growing trend in the fields of health and wellness, fitness and performance.

How we breathe matters. When we allow our breathing system to decline, we set ourselves up for every kind of illness and ailment. In fact, more than 100 diseases are caused, triggered, or exacerbated by unconscious, unhealthy breathing patterns.

Conscious Breathing is the most accessible method there is to prevent or remedy many of our most pressing health issues. Breathwork training is the most natural and direct way of healing a whole range of physical, emotional and psychological problems and challenges.

Breathing Training boosts lung volume and prevents the loss of respiratory capacity as we age. It helps improve posture and spinal health. Breathwork Training makes us more adaptable and resilient and it activates and supports the body’s natural self-healing powers.

Breathwork helps us to heal tension, pain, fear, depression and anxiety disorders when drugs and other traditional methods don’t work. It improves our moods, emotions, and sleep states. And it helps us to increase awareness, confidence, intuition, self-esteem, self-appreciation, and self-love.

Breathing Training supports heart health and boosts mental health. It allows us to hack into our immune system, our nervous system and our brain, to control problems like high blood pressure, inflammation, asthma, chronic stress, chronic fatigue, and long-standing addictions.

Conscious Breathing Techniques trigger the release of opioids (natural pain killers and anti-depressants), as well as dopamine and serotonin (“happy and calming” hormones—neurotransmitters of pleasure, motivation and memory). And they also reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

Breathing training helps improve digestion and it supports weight loss. Did you ever wonder where your weight goes when you lose it? Studies show that most of that weight is eliminated through the breath!

Poor breathing habits, especially in children even cause unhealthy development and disturbing changes in facial muscles, joints, bones, and teeth alignment. Our ancestors had naturally healthy breathing habits, and they all had straight teeth!

Breathwork training clears stale stagnant energy from our system. It helps us to access, manage and release suppressed emotions, to control our nervous system and alter our brainwaves. Breathing training allows us to relax and energize ourselves on demand.

Breathwork helps to reset our body’s basic mechanisms and brain chemistry. It helps athletes to run faster, dive deeper, climb higher, and it helps us all to sleep better and to live longer.

Breathwork Training produces powerful psychological insights and emotional breakthroughs. It triggers beautiful mystical visions, deep spiritual awakenings, and genuine “rebirth” experiences. It even allows us to turn certain genes on and off.

Breathing Training helps us to maintain balance in the body so that mild health problems don’t develop into serious health issues. Breathwork awakens our natural appreciation of the magic and mystery of life. It helps us to realize our purpose, and to fulfill our heart’s grandest desires.

None of this is new. Practically every modern breathing technique was taught by the ancient masters and can be found in ancient texts. These techniques have been renamed, repackaged and repurposed over the years by different cultures for different reasons.

Anyone of any age can benefit from breathing training. But since breathwork unlocks powerful life force energies, some breathing exercises may not be suitable for everyone, and certain breathing techniques are definitely not for dabblers.

Activating energy is easy, but learning to wisely control, direct and distribute this energy is another thing altogether. That’s why breathwork requires weeks or months to learn, and years to master.

The world desperately needs more high quality breathworkers and ethical breathing teachers. That’s why I offer breathing training, coaching and consulting. And that’s why I teach others to facilitate breathing sessions and to lead breathwork seminars and workshops.

Now is a perfect time to begin a new career in the field of health and wellness, fitness and performance, or to take your current healing or coaching practice to the next level. I have been teaching breathwork since the early 1970’s, and so you are invited to enroll in one of the oldest and most respected Breathwork Practitioner Certification Programs and Breathing Teacher Trainings in the world.

For more information on please visit www.breathmastery.com and subscribe to my FREE Monthly Newsletter Breathing Reports and search the archives. (I have published an article or essay on breathing every month since June of 1976.)

Get my book, JUST BREATHE: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond. (Available through Amazon.com, and in bookstores everywhere.)

Enroll in my online O2 Fundamentals Course and begin your Breathwork Training today. All the info is here:
https://www.o2collective.com/breath-mastery-fundamentals

ON BREATH AND BREATHING Breathwork Training is Preventive Medicine for the Twenty-First Century.

By | Blog

Everyone breathes but unfortunately very few people breathe very well. That’s why Breathing Training is becoming more popular than yoga and meditation! And that’s why it’s the fastest growing trend in the fields of health and wellness, fitness and performance.

How we breathe matters. When we allow our breathing system to decline, we set ourselves up for every kind of illness and ailment. In fact, more than 100 diseases are caused, triggered, or exacerbated by unconscious, unhealthy breathing patterns.

Conscious Breathing is the most accessible method there is to prevent or remedy many of our most pressing health issues. Breathwork training is the most natural and direct way of healing a whole range of physical, emotional and psychological problems and challenges.

Breathing Training boosts lung volume and prevents the loss of respiratory capacity as we age. It helps improve posture and spinal health. Breathwork makes us more adaptable and resilient and it activates and supports the body’s natural self-healing powers.

Breathwork helps us to heal tension, pain, fear, depression and anxiety disorders when drugs and other traditional methods don’t work. It improves our moods, emotions, and sleep states. And it helps us to increase awareness, confidence, intuition, self-esteem, self-appreciation, and self-love.

Breathing Training supports heart health and boosts mental health. It allows us to hack into our immune system, our nervous system and our brain, to control problems like high blood pressure, inflammation, asthma, chronic stress, chronic fatigue, and long-standing addictions.

Conscious Breathing Techniques trigger the release of opioids (natural pain killers and anti-depressants), as well as dopamine and serotonin (“happy and calming” hormones—neurotransmitters of pleasure, motivation and memory). And it also reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

Breathing training helps improve digestion and it supports weight loss. Did you ever wonder where your weight goes when you lose it? Studies show that most of that weight is eliminated through the breath!

Poor breathing habits even cause unhealthy changes in facial muscles, joints, bones, and teeth alignment. Our ancestors had naturally healthy breathing habits, and they all had straight teeth!

Breathwork training clears stale stagnant energy from our system. It helps us to access, manage and release suppressed emotions, and to control our nervous system and alter our brainwaves. Breathing training allows us to relax and energize ourselves on demand.

Breathwork helps to reset our body’s basic mechanisms and brain chemistry. It helps athletes to run faster, dive deeper, climb higher, and it helps us all to sleep better and to live longer.

Breathwork produces powerful psychological insights and emotional breakthroughs. It triggers beautiful mystical visions, deep spiritual awakenings, and genuine “rebirth” experiences. It even allows us to turn certain genes on and off.

Breathing Training helps us to maintain balance in the body so that mild health problems don’t develop into serious health issues. Breathwork awakens our natural appreciation of the magic and mystery of life. It helps us to realize our purpose, and to fulfill our heart’s grandest desires.

None of this is new. Practically every modern breathing technique was taught by the ancient masters and can be found in ancient texts. These techniques have been renamed, repackaged and repurposed over the years by different cultures for different reasons.

Anyone of any age can benefit from breathing training. But since breathwork unlocks powerful life force energies, some breathing exercises may not be suitable for everyone, and certain breathing techniques are definitely not for dabblers.

Activating energy is easy, but learning to wisely control, direct and distribute this energy is another thing altogether. That’s why breathwork requires weeks or months to learn, and years to master.

The world desperately needs more high quality breathworkers and ethical breathing teachers. That’s why I offer breathing training, coaching and consulting. And that’s why I teach others to facilitate breathing sessions and to lead breathwork seminars and workshops.

Now is a perfect time to begin a new career in the field of health and wellness, of fitness and performance, or to take your current healing or coaching practice to the next level. And so, you are invited to enroll in my Breathwork Practitioner Certification Program and Teacher Training.

For more information on Breathwork Training, please visit www.breathmastery.com and subscribe to my FREE Monthly Newsletter Breathing Reports and search the archives. (I have published an article or essay on breathing every month since June of 1976.)

Get my book, JUST BREATHE: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond. (Available thru Amazon.com, and bookstores everywhere.)

Enroll in my online O2 Fundamentals Course and begin your Breathwork Training today.

All the info is here: https://www.o2collective.com/breath-mastery-fundamentals

For Personal Coaching, email me: dan@breathmastery.com.

Wishing you much luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path.

Dan (July 2020)

Breathwork for Venting and Transforming Stress, Tension and Fatigue

By | Blog

One of the advanced breath mastery skills we teach, and practice is “sucking” tension and fatigue out of the muscles with the inhale and releasing it from the body with the exhale.

With practice, anyone can learn to use the inhale to pull energy from tense tired muscles, and then vent it from the system with the exhale. If you are an athlete, fitness junkie, or a high performer, this is an extremely valuable skill to develop, and so it is well worth practicing.

For example, when your legs get tired and sore while running, you can use the inhale to suck that tension and fatigue up from your leg muscles and release it with the exhale.

To begin this practice right now, tense your left arm and simultaneously relax and loosen the right.

Now inhale and imagine drawing energy from the tense left arm and sending it across and out the relaxed right arm with your exhale.

Do this a few times, then reverse it. Relax and loosen your left arm while tensing and tightening the right. Now draw energy from the tense right arm up across and out the relaxed left arm.

You can also get in the pushup position, twist to one side and hold yourself up with one arm. Relax the other arm, let it hang loosely and practice drawing the tension and fatigue up from the weight bearing arm and exhaling it out the relaxed arm.

You can also focus on any other part of your body that begins to feel stressed, tense, or tired. Gather that energy up with your inhale and send it out your relaxed arm.

Do this a few times, then lay on your back, puddle out, and meditate on your energy. Notice that you feel something like an energized calm. This skill helps us to relax and recharge on the go, and it quickly notches up our endurance levels.

In general, you want to remember to relax any muscles that you don’t need to do the required work or maintain the stressed position. A good exercise for this is to tense and tighten both arms and fists as much as possible, while deliberately relaxing your jaw and neck and face, or any other place where there is unnecessary tension.

You can also relax your arm and shoulder while making a very tight fist. When you move or swing your arm, your fist should feel like a ball on the end of a chain. A very powerful and dangerous weapon!

Recently, we have been practicing an advanced upgrade to this kind of training.

It is very useful when you need to relieve stress and tension and fatigue, but you can’t afford to drop into parasympathetic rest and recover mode because you are engaged in an important activity.

When you need to perform, when you need to remain charged and ready—locked and loaded, relaxing completely or puddling out, is not an option.

So the skill is in how to transform tension and fatigue through breathing alone, rather than dissolving it through relaxation.

Here’s the practice. Breathe (inhale) into the area of tension. And then with the exhale, send the energy toward yourself instead of releasing it out of your body.

Press the energy deeper into your system with the exhale. It is similar to the practice of Iron Shirt Chi Kung, where you use the breath to pack chi into your fascia. It also touches on one of the principles of “de-reflexive breathing.”

I like the analogy of a French coffee press. When we exhale, we are pressing the energy into our system rather than releasing out of the body. You can use the “ujayi” breath sound to help the process and make it more alive.

Do this for a few minutes. Breathe into your tired muscles or tense body parts, and then with the exhale send this energy in toward yourself, toward your center, rather than venting it from the system.

After some time, lay down on your back, puddle out, and meditate on your body and your energy. You will notice that the “heavy” tense energy is gone but the muscles and body are still charged, but with a “lighter” form of energy.

We all have the ability to transform energy, to transform dark heavy energy—tension and fatigue—into light life force energy. We can transform pain and suffering into healing and growth. We can transform negative emotional energy into creative, life giving energy.

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

Breathwork and Consciousness

By | Blog

I believe that the consciousness movement is the most important movement on the planet today. And given the current state of affairs in the world, the study of consciousness is more important than ever.

I believe that growth in consciousness is the only way to lasting happiness and world peace. I believe that the next leap in human evolution will be a shift in consciousness. And I believe that breathwork can cause that shift.

And so, this month we have been focusing more deeply on consciousness and breathing. As breathworkers we find ourselves at the heart of the consciousness movement, and we also find ourselves at odds with the current scientific paradigm called materialism.

The materialist view is that we are all separate, finite, and limited. Materialism is the belief that consciousness somehow evolved out of matter—that the brain somehow produces consciousness. In fact, it is the other way around. Consciousness is primary.

Materialism is an unprovable belief system. Einstein even called it a religion. No one can prove that anything exists outside of consciousness, let alone that anything preceded it or produced it.

So much precious time, energy and money are being spent on studying the brain to understand how it produces consciousness. But this is like taking apart a cd player to understand music.

Humanity cannot survive scientific materialism. We desperately need a paradigm shift, for the sake of ethics and education, science and technology, medicine, business, politics, and for the sake of our children.

Spiritual breathing produces that shift. It teaches us that we are all connected, that we are one, and that consciousness is the source of our body and of the physical world. Spiritual breathing awakens us to the fact that all of reality exists within a single non-local, universal transcendent consciousness, that some might call God.

Through spiritual breathing we learn that consciousness is the essence of our being, and that breathing is the movement of that essence. Breathwork awakens us to the fact that most if not all of the world’s problems are caused or made worse by unconsciousness.

Breathwork teaches us that consciousness exists independent of the body. It shows us that everything is made of consciousness, that everything is consciousness. All of the great spiritual teachers have taught this and thank God a growing number of modern scientists and philosophers now share this view.

Leonard Orr once said that consciousness and breath are the king and queen of the spiritual kingdom. I say that spiritual breathing is the marriage of consciousness and breath. Leonard also said be careful what you think about when you breathe because the breath brings life to that which you hold in consciousness.

What happens, what is real in each moment depends on our consciousness. Our conscious and unconscious thoughts, beliefs, habits and patterns act to automatically mold and shape mind into matter. In every moment, all of the infinite possible futures collapse into one actual present moment.

The growth in consciousness that comes from Breathwork allows us to go beyond narrow self-serving, short term reactionary survival thinking. It helps us overcome conditioned, impulsive, addictive behaviors, fear, pain, jealousy, insecurity, ignorance, or denial of our real true self.

Breathwork goes beyond the effects of O2 and CO2, beyond endorphins, ketamine, DMT, ayahuasca, LSD, opioids, and so on. Breathwork awakens us to a pure non-local transcendental awareness, an infinite eternal and universal consciousness.

Breathwork helps us to wake up and grow up. It helps us clean up our emotional baggage, so that we can show up in life as our true selves. Breathwork wakes us up to our essence. And the more we breathe the more we realize that everything in existence shares that same essence.

Breathwork helps us overcome our deepest fears: fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of risk, fear of conflict, failure, obstacles, judgment, and fear of uniqueness. And all of these things occur in consciousness.

Breathwork takes us on a journey back to our self—to our real true self. Breathwork teaches us that in essence we are existence, consciousness and bliss. The more we practice breathwork the more we experience our natural state of bliss. And once this bliss becomes normal, it is experienced simply as a sense of peace.

Breath energy is unlike any force known to science. It takes us deep into the field of pure consciousness. It transforms us and our lives, the world, and the lives of others. Through breathwork or spiritual breathing we discover that God is not a being. God is a state of being, and through breathwork we can awaken to and live in that state of being.

A simple exercise or meditation to begin with is infusing every cell of your body with breath energy. Get out of your head and get into your heart. Experience each breath from the vantage point of your cells. Breathe with your whole body.

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path.

Drilling Down on 2-Phase Breathing

By | Blog

This month we are focusing more deeply on “2-Phase Breathing.” It is a way to develop more breath awareness and more breath control. The idea is to explore the active and passive phases and the reflex and neutral points in the cycle.

To start, imagine a round clock. Divide the circle in half by drawing a vertical line from 12 to 6. The left side represents the inhale (from 6 up to 12), and the right side represents the exhale (from 12 down to 6). 12 o’clock represents a completely full inhale, and 6 o’clock represents a completely empty exhale. These two points are reflex points.

If you take a big breath and fill yourself up on the inhale (12 o’clock point), you don’t have to do the exhale at that point because the reflex will do it. As soon as you stop pulling in, as soon as you let go, the exhale happens by itself. No need to push or blow or even “do” the exhale. The body does it, the reflex does it. It happens because you relax.

If you squeeze all the breath out and come to the empty point at 6 o’clock, you have reached the other reflex point. At this point you don’t need to “do” the inhale, you don’t have to pull the breath in. All you need to do is relax and let go and the breath pours into you by itself. The reflex does the work of inhaling, your body inhales by itself.

Now draw a horizontal line across the clock dividing the circle into top and bottom. These are neutral points: 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Either reflex (12 or 6) should take you to this “neutral zone.”

When you are at 12 o’clock, the internal forces of expansion that have built up will power the exhale. When you are at 6 o’clock, the forces of contraction that have built up will power the inhale. But the reflexes will not fill you up or empty you. They will only take you to the neutral points.

Now you see that the clock has four sections. The top right section is the passive phase of the exhale and the bottom right section is the active phase of the exhale. The bottom left is the passive phase of the inhale and the top left is the active phase of the inhale.

When you are close to 12, it requires tremendous effort to inhale even a little bit more breath, but it takes no effort to exhale. When you are close to 6 o’clock, it takes great effort to squeeze out even a little more breath, but it takes no effort to inhale.

At 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock it takes the same amount of effort to inhale as it does to exhale, because there are no forces pushing or pulling on the breath. This is the point where a marksman pulls the trigger on a gun. And this is the point where yogis can easily enter the “breathless state.”

If you relax at either 12 or 6—the reflex points—the breath moves by itself. The body does the breathing. If you relax at 3 or 9—the neutral points—the breath doesn’t move at all. You are in the neutral zone.

Practice playing with these two reflexes. Strengthen them, experiment with them. Get out of the way and let them do the work. Let your body do the first phase of the inhale or the exhale. And you come in only at the neutral point. There, you take over the breathing, filling yourself more or emptying yourself more.

So, when you are at 12, the body does the first half of the exhale all by itself (the passive phase), and you do the second half of the exhale (the active phase). Then the body does the first half of the inhale (passive phase), and you do the second half (the active phase).

It’s like being in a relay race. The first runner is the body. It has the baton. Then it passes control over to you. You have the baton and you take the breath further. Body does the first phase and you do the second. The breath breathes itself during the first phase and you breathe the breath during the second phase.

Notice that the top half of the clock represents the rebirthing breath, heart opening exercises and transformational practices (active inhale and passive exhale). And notice that the bottom half represents diaphragmatic breathing, used in practices such martial arts and sports, and the yogic practice of “breath of fire,” where the exhale is active and the inhale is reflexive.

Play with these reflex points and neutral points in the breathing cycle. Play with the active and passive phases of the breathing cycle. Make it a meditation. Learn what your unconscious habit is. Learn what is your default habits are under stress. Notice which phases and points are easy to touch and feel, and which ones are challenging or unfamiliar.

Welcome to the dance of breath! Welcome to 2-Phase Breathing.

Playing with the Forces in Breathwork

By | Blog

One of the core techniques we master in Breathwork is the “Connected Breathing Rhythm.” It’s the Rebirthing Technique, also called Circular Breathing. The main thing is that there are no pauses or gaps between the breaths. The inhale connects to the exhale and the exhale connects to the inhale in a smooth, steady, continuous pattern. It should feel like a wheel turning.

An important feature of the Rebirthing technique is to make the inhale active and the exhale passive. In other words, we control the inhale, but we surrender on the exhale. We do the inhale, but we let the exhale happen by itself. We pull the breath in, but we allow the exhale to be reflexive. We do the inhale and the body does the exhale. Breathing like this, the inhale is generally longer than the exhale

A very useful practice is to reverse this pattern and make the exhale active and the inhale passive. In other words, we control the exhale and we surrender on the inhale. We do the exhale, but we let the inhale happen by itself. We push the breath out, but we allow the inhale to be reflexive. We do the exhale and the body does the inhale. Breathing like this, the exhale is generally longer than the inhale.

We often practice this at seminars, because doing the opposite of the Rebirthing-Breathwork pattern can give us a better feel for what we actually want to do. The contrast gives us more breath awareness and more breath control. And it allows us to better understand and to feel and really ‘get’ the core technique.

Try it now. Pull the breath in for a count of 2, 3, or 4. Then simply relax and let the exhale happen by itself. Do this for about 20 connected breaths, Feel the active force on the inhale and the passive release on the exhale.

Then turn it around. Squeeze the exhale out for a count of 2, 3, or 4. Then simply relax and let the inhale happen by itself. In other words, reverse the forces: active exhale, passive inhale. Do this for about 20 breaths, then go back to the Rebirthing-Breathwork pattern: active inhale, passive exhale for about 20 breaths.

Go back and forth like this a few times to really feel the difference between active inhale—reflexive exhale, and active exhale—reflexive inhale.

Next, equalize the forces. Make the inhale and the exhale both active and controlled. Balance them perfectly in length and force, doing both the inhale and the exhale. Do this for about 20 breaths.

Finally, let go completely and allow both inhale and exhale to be passive and reflexive. Don’t do the breathing. Let the breath come and go by itself the way it wants. Let the breath breathe you. Simply relax and feel. Let your borders dissolve. Let yourself merge with the energy of the universe, the energy of everything and everyone.

In this open relaxed state, remember what is important. Remind yourself of who and how you want to be. Radiate love and acceptance, appreciation and gratitude. Feel compassion for yourself and everyone. Celebrate your life and existence!

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