Healthy Lungs and Healthy Humans

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For three years in a row, Breathwork has been the leading trend in wellness globally. It seems that everyone is jumping on the Breathing bandwagon these days. And I say: It’s about time! Because it’s basically impossible to be a healthy human if you are not a healthy breather!

Just about every physical, emotional, and psychological issue or problem can be linked to dysfunctional breathing habits and patterns. In fact, respiratory health and breathing capacity is one of the strongest indicators of life expectancy and longevity. And did you know that up to 60 percent of 911 ambulance calls in America’s largest cities are related to breathing disorders?

Breathing monitors, breathing exercises and breath training devices have become the rage. Hollywood celebrities and even blue-chip medical authorities have been speaking out about the importance of breathwork.

And if you follow the news, it seems that we are living through an “I can’t Breathe” epidemic! Covid in all its forms and with all its variants have been wreaking havoc in the lungs of people all over the planet.

Almost every day, another article or report is published on the benefits of applying breathwork for substance abuse and trauma recovery, high blood pressure, asthma, chronic fatigue, PTSD, ADHD, and a host of other health challenges.

It’s no wonder that the breathwork movement is finally becoming a mainstream movement. More and more medical experts with scientific credentials as well as everyday people with common sense, are realizing that we must be proactive when it comes to respiratory health.

Sport and fitness trainers everywhere are finally focusing on the importance of conscious breathing and breathwork training. Psychotherapists, spiritual counselors, meditation teachers, yoga instructors, and mindset coaches are preaching the benefits breathwork practices.

And so, this month, I’d like to give you a few simple breathing exercises and techniques to help you get your breathing into good shape!

The first place to start is with “Breath Awareness.” Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth? Make sure that nose breathing is your unconscious habit—when awake or sleeping, when working or resting. Practice and train until it is automatic, until it becomes second nature.

Next, don’t rely on accessory muscles when you breathe. Learn to relax your neck muscles and your shoulder muscles when you breathe. Become a master of diaphragmatic breathing!

Develop a protocol for yourself wherein you exercise the parameters of breathing. Your breathing mechanism is like a musical instrument. Practice the scales every day, and remember to practice a bit before an important conversation, event, or performance.

What are the parameters? What are the scales? Think of it this way: Breathing Fast and Breathing Slow. Breathing High and Breathing Low. Pushing, Pulling, Pausing, and Pacing.

Make sure you can access your three breathing spaces. Get breath down into the belly and pelvis. Create flexibility of the chest and back and ribs, to allow ease and expansion in all directions (side to side, front to back, and top to bottom.

Take in a deep breath and fill yourself up completely. Hold your breath, and then stretch and move and twist and turn and arch and curl your spine. Then squeeze all the air out of your lungs and hold your breath while you twist and turn and stretch and move and arch and curl your spine.

Breathe very quickly and smoothly for a minute or two, and then very slowly for a minute of two. And play with effort and relaxation. Make the inhale active and make the exhale passive. Then make the exhale active and the inhale passive.

Pace your breathing. Play with different breathing rhythms. Play with pauses between the breaths. Pausing at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale, and at the halfway full and empty points.

And to balance all this, practice the principle of allowing. We need to get good at ‘taking’ full deep breaths. But we also need to master the art of being breathed, the art of deeply ‘receiving’ the breath!

Remember that breathwork is about getting your head straight and your heart aligned when you breathe. Your attitude and your intention is everything when you practice breathwork. Remember that consciousness is primary.

When you are working with your breath—when you are playing with it—remember that you are breathing energy not just air. Deliberately focus on love and joy and peace, and especially on appreciation and gratitude. Consciously access or generate these energies and feelings when you breathe.

Good luck in your practice and many blessing on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)

The Benefits of Breath Holding

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Breath hold training is a big part of breath mastery. But it’s not just for breathworkers, it’s for modern yogis and extreme athletes, it’s for meditators and martial artists, for special forces, high performers, and first responders, and it’s for healers, helpers, coaches, and kids.

In fact, it’s a good practice for almost anyone with a belly button! Breath hold training helps ordinary people to cope with extraordinary changes, and to navigate everyday emotional issues, physical problems, psychological challenges, and of course, global pandemics!

This kind of breathwork can help people manage or overcome everything from pain and tension to fear and anger… from anxiety and phobias to chronic fatigue and ennui… from asthma to sports injuries, from PTSD and addictions to depression, as well as outrageous success!

The practice of breath holding is extremely empowering and very liberating. It can even be totally enlightening—especially when combined with meditative awareness. It can help you to normalize or optimize your O2 and CO2 levels, to improve your blood and brain chemistry.

You can use breath holding to increase your resilience and your endurance, to strengthen your cardiovascular health, and your immune systems. It supports you in remaining clear, calm, energized and focused, in the most stressful situations and in the most difficult moments.

When I was a little boy, I organized the breath holding competitions and hyperventilation contests in the schoolyard. I was fascinated by the powerful feelings and the unusual states that we could produce by playing with our breath.

When walking to school, I would sometimes pretend that the air was full of smoke or poison, so I had to hold my breath or die. Or I’d imagine I was a spy, and if I got caught breathing, I would be killed. I would pretend that a certain tree or doorway or a signpost up ahead was my only haven, and I would hold my breath at any cost, until I reached safety!

When I found myself in the military working as a medical deep-sea diver and underwater rescue specialist, those childhood contests and competitions turned out to be very practical training, and those games turned into powerful protocols for managing physical, emotional, and psychological states.

The practice helped me to survive and even thrive under pressure, in high stakes, life and death situations. At the time, our training philosophy was ‘all or nothing’ ‘now or never’ and ‘no pain no gain’. And we practiced ‘mind over matter’ which meant “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter!”

We called each other “wimps,” or “pussies,” or “chicken shits,” if we slacked off or hesitated, or if it didn’t look like we were enjoying the pain! Crazy for sure, but there is something very exciting—and addictive—about diving into darkness and danger. And I was hooked!

I was very fortunate to be on some amazing teams and to work with such amazing individuals, because you don’t know you’ve gone too far, until you’ve gone too far! And when I finally went too far, I was fortunate to be rescued and revived. (Karma, for all the lifesaving I had done!)

But it wasn’t until after I left the military, that I learned gentleness is next to holiness. Now, when I teach breath holding, it’s on dry land. And we start by making the pause after the exhale a comfort zone. The game is to welcome all the feelings that come up—not fight them off.

While writing this, I want to practice. And so, I breathe in, I breathe out, and then I pause. I soften all my muscles and loosen all my joints. I close my eyes and relax into the pause. I observe and enjoy the feelings and sensations that are arising in me.

My entire inner world lights up. I feel my spine and skull, I feel the soles of my feet and the top of my head. I feel my tongue and my heartbeat. I feel blood coursing through me. I feel the air on my skin. And I am aware of every cell in my body.

I feel the urge to breathe getting stronger as the CO2 builds up in my system. My throat and my diaphragm want to contract. At this point, I could take a deep breath and end the exercise. But instead, I practice meeting these feelings with simple awareness and more relaxation.

When I need to breathe, instead of taking in a big full satisfying breath, I do some “subtle energy breathing,” to force my system to recover more slowly than I would like. Then I set my breath free to do what it wants, as I focus on the simple pleasure of being alive.

If you would like to practice, here are some tips and reminders:

Make breath holding a meditation. Start with a normal inhale and a normal exhale. Then pause after the exhale and wait to inhale again. (You can pinch your nose and mouth shut if you want, so as not to cheat!)

Wait until the urge to breathe—the feeling of air hunger—gets very strong. Then take in the tiniest sip of air. Nowhere near enough to satisfy the urge—but just enough to allow you to wait a little bit longer before inhaling. It’s good practice at relaxing into intensity!

The point is to get to where you feel is the edge of your comfort zone, and then just hover there, and simply be with the discomfort. Focus on relaxing. Don’t fight or force. Observe whatever arises in you with detachment. Calm your mind. It’s not happening TO YOU, it’s just happening!)

Remember that gentle gradual training works much better than stubborn brute force. And I can assure you that if you practice this for a few minutes, a few times a day, for a few days, you will notice a growing sense of comfort in your body, and overall ease in life.

You’ll be more relaxed and less nervous, and you’ll be more able to consciously respond rather than negatively react when life challenges you—or when you challenge life!

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Developing Awareness and Aligning with Nature

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I love it when people tell me that their breath changes whenever they put their attention on it.

For most people, when they put their attention on the breath, in that moment their breath behaves differently. This is normal, and it proves that you are human!

All great teachers have said that our deepest work is on the level of consciousness, and breathwork is a perfect way to awaken, deepen, refine, purify, and expand our consciousness. Our normal everyday mode of consciousness disturbs our nature. And so we need to develop a different quality of awareness.

When we walk into a forest, all the birds and animals see us and hear us long before we notice them. In fact, as we enter the forest, all the creatures run for their lives! They stop feeding or playing or engaging in their natural activities: they freeze or they run or fly off to safety. They hide from us. In other words, our presence disturbs nature.

And yet, we have all learned that when you enter a forest quietly, slowly, consciously, or if you sit very still and remain very quiet, all the creatures resume their natural activities. The same is true of us and the breath.

When we put our attention on the breath, it reacts to us. It’s like if we are in the shower singing loudly and to our hearts content, and suddenly we realize that a group of strangers are watching and listening, we stop singing, or we change our tune!

We don’t always behave the same way when we are alone compared to when others are observing us or judging us. It’s normal. It’s human. We all have an innocent, delicate, and sensitive inner child; and when we do inner work, if we bring the judging mind with us, we will do violence on our inner child.

That is the point of Breath Awareness, to develop or raise or refine our consciousness. We need to develop the kind of consciousness that doesn’t disturb our nature, the kind of consciousness that brings us into alignment with nature, that allows our true nature to reveal itself, to open, blossom and evolve.

When you bring your attention to the breath, you bring all the baggage that is tangled up or stored in your consciousness. For example, the tendency to control or judge, to resist or attach. Is it right or wrong? Is it good or bad? Should I do this, or must I do that?

This kind of mind is like a dangerous intruder into our naturally vibrant and sublime realms. It creates a split in us. Not only is it divisive, but it also stifles our creativity, and it disturbs our nature. That is the purpose of Breath Watching or Meditative Awareness: to quiet the mind, to refine and up level our consciousness.

The practice of Breath Awareness is also very powerful attention training, concentration training—it is a mindfulness practice. Almost everyone who practices reports that when they try to meditate, their mind quickly wanders, or they become distracted.

When our consciousness gets hijacked, and we find ourselves reacting to miscellaneous habits and patterns, unconscious programs, urges or impulses, the game is to notice these things, and to observe our reactions to them. The game is to simply relax, and gently redirect our attention back to the breath.

Breathwork is about self-liberation, and the main thing we need to be liberated from is our own conditioned mind, our limited thoughts and feelings, our behaviors, our reactions. The more often your mind wanders or gets distracted, the more opportunities you have to train your mind to be quiet and still, and to train yourself to be simply present and aware.

So, don’t worry if you notice that you disturb your breath when you try to observe it. Be patient and persistent. Be loving and gentle. Look and listen and feel from your heart, not your head. And soon, your breath will behave naturally even when you are paying attention to it.

And who knows, you may even develop the ability to go into a forest without disturbing nature. Birds will land on your shoulder and animals will play at your feet, you will have inner peace and your life will flow beautifully, naturally and perfectly thanks to your quiet mind, your relaxed body, and your open heart!

Nature and your own body-mind system will recognize you as part of itself and part of the natural world, instead of a dangerous or disturbing intruder! We all have a place within us that is pure and powerful, innocent, wise, and free. And the more we practice, the more we live from this precious and eternal part of us—our divine essence!

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Subtle Energy Breathing: Engaging the Throat or Cervical “Pump.”

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I recently had a wonderful conversation with Martin Jones about a spiritual breathing exercise that he calls “Holographic Breathing.”

I experience it as a “diaphragm or “pump”. In the throat. It involves what Leonard Orr called “subtle energy breathing.” It helps in the activation of the pineal gland. And it’s something that I observed happening in both BabaJi and Hu Bin from time to time.

Here’s the practice in a nutshell:

1. Close your mouth and keep your lips sealed, as you breathe in and out through your nose.

2. Let the surface of your tongue gently stick to the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue touching or almost touching your front teeth.

3. When you inhale, let your jaw drop slightly, creating a small space between your teeth.

4. When you exhale, close your jaw gently, allowing your teeth to come together again.

5. Keep this subtle movement of your jaw happening with each breath: opening on the inhale and closing on the exhale.

6. Make sure to keep your lips sealed and your tongue softly touching the roof of your mouth the whole time.

You might start by simply breathing through your nose while being conscious of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth. And notice that you can move your jaw up and down while keeping your lips sealed and your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth.

Once you are comfortable with all this, focus on your breathing to bring it all together. Feel your jaw moving down as you inhale and up as the exhale, creating a small quarter inch space between your teeth as you inhale and closing that space as you exhale.

At some point you will find that this movement naturally synchronizes with the movement of breath. When it does, slow everything down and meditate on the subtle energy sensations in your nose as the breath flows in and out.

Feel your teeth gently separating to allow the breath to flow in through the nose, and then softly coming together to allow the breath to flow out through the nose. Notice that as you breathe in through the nose the jaw gently relaxes open, and as you breathe out through the nose the jaw gently closes.

At some point, you may begin to feel breath energy moving through your face and head. If so, enjoy it, and shift your attention to your chest and belly. Notice how your whole torso opens with each inhale and closes with each exhale.

Conscious relaxation and meditative awareness are very important in this practice. It’s also important to keep your neck and throat, and your forehead and face soft and relaxed during the practice.

Notice how your whole body opens and closes energetically along with your teeth and jaw as you breathe in and out. Notice how breath-energy moves in your brain and through your spine and infusing every cell of your body while you breathe.

Notice that you are the conscious living link between the heavens above and the earth below!

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Breathing Into Your Pineal Gland: A Third Eye Activation Practice

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It has been called the Eye of Horus and the Eye of Shiva, the Eye of God in the mind of man. The ancient Greeks and Romans considered it to be the supreme gland.

Descartes called it the seat of the soul. Maybe it’s what Jesus was referring to when he said: “If thine eye be single, the body will be full of light.”

The pineal gland gets its name from the pinecone, and it is shaped like one. This tiny structure sits deeply in the center of your brain, and yet it is sensitive to light—and it is especially to vibration.

It is said that the pineal gland is where spirit and matter collide, or body and soul meet. On the physical, chemical level we know that it manufactures serotonin and melatonin and possibly even dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

When your third eye or your pineal body is awakened, your imagination, creativity, intuition, and lucid dreaming are enhanced, and your moods are stable.

When your pineal gland is healthy and active, you easily experience empathy and a sense of connection and belonging, and a heightened state of clarity that goes beyond the five senses.

This month, I invite you to play with three breathing exercises, techniques and meditations meant to awaken your pineal gland and to open your third eye.

1. Close your eyes and rotate them upward, aiming your attention toward the point between your eyebrows—your third eye, or toward the center point of your brain—to your pineal gland, and plug your ears using your fingers

Take in a full breath in and then exhale slowly thru your nose while making a humming or buzzing sound. Do 6 to 12 rounds of this ‘humming’ or ‘bumblebee- breath.

2. With each breath, for several minutes, imagine sending beams of light toward the front and toward the back, to the left and the right, straight up and straight down. With each breath imagine directing light outward from your pineal gland in the center of your skull. (From the inside out.)

Then again for several minutes, imagine sending beams of light from the front and from behind, from the left and the right, and from above and below. With each breath, direct light from around you toward that central point in your brain—to your pineal gland. (From the outside in.)

3. In the morning when the sun is rising, and again in the evening when it is setting—when the sun is not yet bright—gently gaze at the sun. Breathe consciously with the intention to exchange energy and light between the sun and your pineal gland.

Give yourself lots of time for this practice. Be patient. For some, it may take days or weeks to awaken or develop this sixth sense.

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Breathing and Relaxing into Stress and Tension Points of the Body

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At our sessions and seminars recently, we have been focusing on the second ingredient in the Formula for Transformation and one of the cornerstones of breathwork, which is relaxation.

We have been diving deeper into our natural ability to trigger a deep sense of safety and security in the body… This is very important during a breathing session because if your body doesn’t feel safe it will not let you fly!

Just about everyone carries some tension somewhere in the body. And when our hearts and minds long to soar, any tensions in the body can act like chains and heavy weights that keep us stuck and unable to feel light and free.

Where in your body do you tend to hold tension? Why not explore those places right now?

Give yourself a big sigh of relief with the intention of letting go and relaxing. And begin to systematically explore various areas of your body where the residue of any shocks or traumas, injuries or illnesses remain as subtle bands of tension.

Start with the muscles around your eyes, forehead, temples, face, mouth, jaw, tongue, neck, and the base of your skull. Bring detailed awareness to each of these places while you consciously breathe soothing energy and relaxation into them with each breath.

Next, bring detailed awareness—focused attention—to your heart space. Breathe and relax into your shoulders, chest, ribs and back. Use your breath and your conscious intention to infuse these places with self-care and soft light.

Next, explore your stomach, abdomen, solar plexus, and diaphragm. Breathe and relax into your waist and pelvis, your tailbone, genitals, hips, thighs, and legs. Play with your breath as you bring loving awareness and deliberate relaxation to these places.

Now take your time and explore all these places again. Use a gentle connected breathing rhythm and give yourself nice sighs of relief as you connect to each muscle and joint and organ. Identify those places where you feel or imagine have a history of illness, injury, trauma, or stress.

Be patient with yourself and with your mind-body system. Be curious and enjoy the process. Nothing serious! Wiggle and squirm and gently stretch and open and loosen the various places as you relax and breathe into them.

In the same way that you can wash and massage your body, use this practice to clean and balance and nourish your body from the inside out. Deliberately generate gratitude and appreciation, and celebrate the fact that you are alive, that you can think and feel and move and breathe! And be confident that this practice will awaken your natural healing and restorative powers!

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Two Classic Yogic Breathing Practices

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I recently got a question from one of our O2 Fundamental students about the difference between these two ancient Pranayama techniques:

Bhastrika, also called “Bellows Breathing” and “Breath of Fire,”
Kapalbhati, also called “Skull Shining Breath.”

First, let’s notice whatever names they were given, they are perfect examples of Conscious Breathing Exercises, aka Breathwork Techniques or Breathwork practices.

They can be practiced alone or combined in tandem. They both help strengthen the lungs, and both have contra-indications or precautions when it comes to menstruation, pregnancy, hernia, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and epilepsy. (Be gentle!)

With Bhastrika or bellows breathing, both the inhales and the exhales are active or controlled. The breathing can be described as powerful, rapid, equalized. Breathe through your nose.

The practice is meant to be energizing, activating, stimulating, enlivening. The focus or orientation is on chest breathing. The mind should be relaxed, quiet and focused.

This exercise can be done sitting or standing, and very often the arms are used. Reach straight up over your head with open hands as if ‘grabbing’ energy with the inhale. Then close your fists and pull your arms back down sharply with the exhale, bringing your elbows to the sides of your lower chest.

There are variations on this practice. Most often the palms are facing away from you, but it can also be done with palms facing toward you. And it can also be done with hands resting on your legs, palms up, with index finger and thumbs touching (“Gyan mudra”).

It’s good to start slow and do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Between sets, breathe naturally and practice breath meditation and relaxation. Get comfortable with a pace of 1 breath per second, and work up to 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 reps.

The final set can be followed by a long silent pause before returning to natural breathing.

The breathing is powerful, but the nervous system remains calm and balanced. A good intention to form while doing Kaplbhati is to embody joy and lightness.

Kapalbhati or ‘skull shining breath’ is belly or diaphragm oriented. And the exhale is active and controlled, while the inhale is passive or reflexive.

This is a good morning mind purification ritual. Learn to coordinate your abdominal muscles and diaphragmatic movement—with no tension or unnecessary effort.

It feels like you are using your belly to sharply blow your nose. And a variation on this is to breathe through your mouth, making a ‘hoo’ sound on the exhale. The intention is purification or active detoxing.

The same advice applies, start slowly and gradually build up the pace, intensity, and number of reps. And always practice pure awareness and natural breathing between sets.

So, in summary, Bhastrika focuses on the chest. The inhale and exhale are both active and controlled, and the purpose is to energize and enliven yourself.

With Kapalbhati we focus on the abdomen, the diaphragm. The exhale is active and controlled while the inhale is passive or reflexive, and the intention is cleansing or purification.

I have not recorded a video demonstration, and so I suggest you do a Google/YouTube search to see how different yogis and teachers do it.

Don’t get hung up on the Sanskrit terms, although some people love showing off their yoga vocabulary! Focus on coordinating the forces, dynamics, and structures. Remember it’s a meditation not just an exercise.

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

Love and blessings to all,

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Celebrating the Benefits of Breathwork

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One of the biggest results or benefits of breathwork for me is how it quiets my mind and takes me to a soft place of inner silence, stillness and peace, where there is no thought, no movement, and no ego… Just pure blissful awareness!

During my recent adventure with covid, I found myself spending a lot of time in that blissful state between waking and sleeping, where my mind feels spacious and my body feels weightless.

Throughout my bout with covid, I resisted taking any drugs or medical supplements. My practice was simply to open and relax and, to be with my breathing, allowing my breath to flow, and allowing myself to flow with it.

Whenever I found myself caught up in uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, I would remind my body to relax, and I would return my attention to the breath in order to quiet my mind. Sometimes I would consciously generate thoughts and feelings of peace and comfort, which caused the breath to move or pause or change in some way.

Sometimes I would focus on counting or pacing my breath or sensing it with my whole body, which resulted in even more comfort and peace—despite the suffering! And so, once again I am celebrating the art and science of breathwork!

And I am not alone in this celebration. Here is a list of results and benefits sent to me by other breathworkers in our community. Maybe you have experienced them:

Fully embraced the importance of self-love and self-care

Greater understanding of myself and others

Feeling more connected to myself and others

Created a new way of discovery and learning

Quit smoking. Lowered my blood pressure

Eliminated several prescription medications

Cleared my anxiety and depression

Became more spiritual rather than religious

Awakened real and abiding connection to Divinity, Source, God.

Enjoying many surprising discoveries about my self

A greater sense of calmness.

A bigger comfort zone

Noticed how subtle changes accumulate into major shifts

Awakening to wonderful new parts of myself

Able to bring spiritual principles to life rather than intellectualizing and philosophizing

Ability to surrender to what is, as it is.

Greater feelings of aliveness throughout the body

Noticing more brightness in the world, more brilliance around me

Much more conscious and aware of subtle body sensations

More freedom of expression. Less psychological baggage

Relationships with family, friends, co-workers are improving

Better athletic performance

Feeling more connected to earth energy.

I can energize and calm myself

Able to deal with and alleviate pain

Increased ability to slow down, pause, and take in moments of bliss

Able to consciously respond instead of reacting

Able to interrupt dysfunctional or un-resourceful patterns

More vibrant connection to my inner world

A stronger connection to Source. Feelings of oneness

Able to anchor new information, skills, insights

Less bothered by difficult people, things, and situations

Calmer, more focused. More open to love

More flexible psychologically and emotionally

Able to easily shift to a more positive perspective

Able to look at problems in different ways, and find unique solutions

Better intuition. Expanded psychic abilities.

Bubbling up of happiness and joy

Seeing more joy and aliveness in people’s eyes

Noticing a wonderful glow around others

More loving and accepting of myself and others

Not fighting and resisting life as much

Less judgmental, less guarded

Connecting more deeply to people

A delightful sense of newness

Noticing that my presence has a real healing impact on others

With each session, there is a peeling away of layers

I am becoming more whole and freer

Helped get me through a serious life-threatening condition

Support in dealing with cancer

I am firmly set on the path of growth and self-healing

Greater ability to love and accept whatever life brings

More positive attitude. Less critical of self and others

Helps with sleep disorders

I can watch my mind

Seeing how my mind tries to change reality to match its ideas

More conscious of choices, fears, energetic blocks

Willingness to explore instead of avoid.

More able to say “yes” to life. More adventurous.

Able to observe myself in different situations instead of being lost in automatic behaviors

Seeing my own patterns more clearly

Realize how when I change, other people and my world seems to change.

Do many of these results and benefits ring true for you? I can relate to almost all of them. And I invite you to add to this list!

Love and blessings to all,

(Guchu Ram Singh)

Breathwork for Releasing Trauma

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Recently, the International Breathwork Foundation sponsored a teaching session called “Befriending the Elephant in the Room: Recipes for Trauma Release in Younger and Older Bodies.” It was a pleasure to create the presentation with Joanne Lowell and The Breathing Classroom Team.

A fun and beautifully illustrated booklet is in production and will be available through the IBF soon. And if you’d like to view the Zoom Presentation, contact the IBF.

This is a very important topic, especially considering the state of the world these days. And since breathwork is such a powerful means of addressing the issue, I’d like to talk about it this month.

First of all, we need to realize that trauma is not a problem. It is a fact. It can occur when something negative happens without warning; when something happens that we are not prepared to deal with; when negative events occur multiple times; or when they leave us feeling powerless.

Trauma has many physical, psychological and emotional signs and symptoms, and we all respond to it in our own ways, such as anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, hopelessness, self-blame, denial, disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, having an extreme startle reflex, nightmares, insomnia, disturbing visual images or intrusive thoughts about an event, a feeling of being numb or disconnected from reality, withdrawing from social situations and personal relationships, aches and pains that have no explanation, and chronic health problems due to stress.

It sounds like if you have a belly button, you have experienced trauma! It may surprise you to learn that most people have been carrying trauma in their bodies since birth! And nothing clears it better and faster than Breathwork, especially when combined with other healing practices. In our little IBF booklet, we reveal some very powerful ‘recipes’ for clearing trauma.

Here is a quick overview of the elements in the approach:

  1. Conscious Breathing
  2. Identifying ‘Triggers’
  3. Body Tensing and Relaxing
  4. Body Scanning
  5. Touch/Self Massage
  6. Moving, Shaking, Dancing
  7. Making Soothing or Expressive Sounds, Toning, Singing
  8. Finding a Place Inner Stillness, Silence, Oneness
  9. Gentle Self-Soothing

Once you understand and practice these basic ingredients, and by trusting your body’s natural wisdom, you can combine them in your own unique way. When you do, you can help yourself and support others. This is by no means a complete list of trauma-related practices or interventions, but they are more than enough to do the trick!

What’s more, you can select and apply these practices in your everyday life whenever you feel fearful, tense, anxious, irritated, edgy, upset, when your fight or flight response gets activated, or when something causes a sudden increase in your heart rate or blood pressure. You can even practice right now.

Bring to mind a disturbing event. Close your eyes and tune into your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Get your breathing into the ‘therapeutic zone’ which is between 4 and 8 breaths per minute. You can use ‘Coherent Breathing’ which is 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. You can practice the ‘1-2 Breath’ which means your exhales are twice as long as your inhales. Or you can simply repeat slow exaggerated sighs of relief. Continue breathing consciously while you open your eyes and take in the details of your surroundings for a few moments.

Then close your eyes again and scan your body from top to bottom. Feel what’s happening in your jaw, neck, shoulders, belly, spine, arms, legs, hands… How does it feel in your body right now? Look for a place in your body that is warm, relaxed or comfortable. Allow your attention to rest there. Put your hand over this place and breathe into it for a few minutes and feel a sense of gentle peaceful expansion. Know that you can return to this soothing feeling at any time.

Next, bring your attention to a place that feels tense, uncomfortable, closed, or blocked in some way. Put your hand over this place and breathe into it for a few minutes. Bring in a self-soothing resource: a pleasant memory in nature or a loved one. Give the feeling a voice or play with sound.

Open your eyes again and notice your surroundings. Tune into something around you that brings a pleasant feeling, such as the sky, a tree, a plant, or a pet. With your feet firmly planted on the ground, invite gentle rocking or swaying, like a tree in the wind. Or you might want to loosen your knees and let your whole body shake up and down.

After a few minutes, return to simple stillness, and let your breathing be free and easy and natural before returning to your normal activities.

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

It Ain’t What You Do, It’s What’s Going On Inside You While You Do It!

By Blog

 

I think most people would agree that the main thing in any relationship is what you bring to that relationship. A similar thing applies to communication: often what matters most is not what you say, but how you say it. And Breathwork is no different: the quality of attention and the purity of intention that we put into the practice determines what we get out of it.

This month, I want to remind you that there are three pillars or cornerstones in Breathwork: consciousness, relaxation, and breath control. And it’s a reminder that it’s easy to get caught up in the technical details and the measurable aspects of the practice and miss the subtle essence of it.

An unconscious person might be hooked up to a mechanical ventilator which is set to an ideal rate and volume in terms of physiological requirements, yet that breathing pattern is void of any psychological, emotional or spiritual benefits.

There was a time when our survival depended on being strong and fast. Animals with the sharpest teeth, biggest claws, and toughest skin tended to out-survive others in the jungle. But then along came smart, and suddenly or gradually, speed and strength alone were not enough.

Moving into the future, it is not those who are the strongest, fastest or smartest who will survive and thrive, but those who are the most conscious. Consciousness is primary. It is the most essential aspect of our nature and existence itself. And breathwork is all about awakening and expanding consciousness, about raising and deepening our consciousness.

Breathwork is also about bringing passion and enthusiasm, love and appreciation—not only to the practice, but also to ourselves and others, to life and the world. Leading scientists and philosophers tell us that consciousness exists everywhere in everything—or more accurately, everything is taking place in your consciousness.

Take a few minutes right now and become conscious of your breathing. Be very conscious of your inhale and be very conscious of your exhale. And be very conscious of any pauses between the breaths. Be very conscious of the muscles you use to breathe. Be very conscious of the feelings and sensations related to the breath. And notice that everything is taking place in your consciousness.

Being more conscious is about being totally honest with yourself about exactly what you feel and what you think. It’s about being totally present to what is occurring in your mind and body. Whatever ‘grabs’ your attention, whatever your senses alert you to, breathe into it, breathe with it. Meet it and greet whatever arises in consciousness with breath awareness.

Begin to play with your attention. Notice that your attention can be internal or external, it can be narrow or broad. Notice that you can combine internal and external awareness. You can be laser-focused on a specific external event or object and at the same time you can maintain a broad internal awareness of your body breathing.

Bring a sense of openness, of softness and relaxation to the practice, and you will find that your awareness expands and deepens. As it does, you will notice the natural tendency to experience ‘heart-centered’ thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Most people are trying to think their way through life or muscle their way toward success or victory. Breathwork teaches us that we can open to life and move through life much better by awakening heart intelligence. It’s no accident that the lungs are wrapped around the heart.

Breathwork teaches us that higher consciousness arises in the heart. Think of the heart as your new root chakra! If you use your breath to become more heart centered, your relationships and your communications will take on a new quality, a new dimension, and your experience of life will deepen and expand.

Right now, focus on your heart and breathe. Deliberately generate thoughts and feelings that resonate with your highest aspirations, and your heart’s grandest desires. Breathwork is about choosing high quality thoughts and feelings and then consciously breathing life into them.

If you put this kind of passion, enthusiasm and heartfelt intention into each breath, you will begin to awaken to your essence. If you can bring a certain quality to your awareness you will awaken to a universal consciousness that is far more powerful and much more important than any personal power, speed or mental capacities!

And the amazing side effect is that you will naturally and automatically become faster, stronger, and smarter!

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

(Guchu Ram Singh)

March, 2021

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