During one of our recent Online Breath Mastery Training sessions, we played with a wonderful style of Breathwork created by Jim Leonard called Vivation. I also teach this practice in the O2 Fundamentals Course. And this month, I invite you to master it.
There are a couple of very powerful concepts in Vivation. The first one is that “joy is inherent in existence.” This means that all you need to be happy is to exist. And it also means that if you are not experiencing happiness, then you must be doing something to block the natural joy that comes from simply being alive.
When it comes to emotions, most people think there are two choices: either expression or suppression. Vivation teaches us a very practical and transformational third option. And that is “Integration.”
Another important concept in Vivation is the difference between “content” and “context.” Every experience has both content and context. For example, if I have one hundred dollars in my pocket, that is the content of my experience. It is what it is, what it is, what it is! It’s the reality.
Context on the other hand, is what I think about it, the meaning I give it, how I feel about it, what I tell myself about it. If I think one hundred bucks is a lot of money, I will probably feel happy. But if I think “I am almost broke,” I will probably be unhappy.
Jim coined the term “make-wrong” to understand the cause of suffering. When we make something wrong, when we think it shouldn’t be what it is, we naturally withdraw our energy and awareness from it—which means we are cutting ourselves off from a part of ourselves, from a part of existence. And this is a central cause of suffering.
Most people think that happiness depends on the content of their experience. But Vivation teaches us that context is the cause of our happiness or unhappiness. Most people accept whatever context their mind automatically conjures up—out on habit, unconscious beliefs, or early programming. Vivation is about creating or choosing context.
There are Five Elements of Vivation:
- Circular Breathing
- Complete Relaxation
- Awareness in Detail
- Integration into Ecstasy
- Willingness is Enough
Circular Breathing means there are no pauses or gaps between the breaths. The inhale turns into the exhale and the exhale merges with the inhale, in a continuous uninterrupted breathing rhythm. There are three circular breathing patterns in Vivation:
- Fast and Full
- Slow and Full
- Fast and Shallow.
We use fast and full breathing when we want to activate energy. We use slow and full breathing when we want to take in or increase the feeling of pleasure. We use fast and shallow breathing to process something big or unpleasant. We also use fast and shallow breathing for the fun of it. Like a happy dog!
Complete Relaxation means we are relaxing on every exhale. It means we are doing our best to relax quickly, again and again, and to relax deeply and totally all the while we are breathing.
Awareness in Detail refers to physical sensations. Our focus is on the body. There is no reason to engage the thinking mind. We experience every feeling directly as a pattern or energy in the body. And we understand that feelings and sensations are the physical expressions of emotions.
Integration into Ecstasy is the fourth element of Vivation. Every experience has some potential for enjoyment. Some things are obviously easier to enjoy than others. In Vivation, we choose to find and focus on the maximum potential for enjoyment in every moment.
This fourth element is about choosing context or creating it. It’s about re-framing. It’s about using affirmations. And it’s about eliminating any make-wrongs. (Is your glass half full or half empty?)
Do whatever you do, willingness is enough. This is the fifth element in Vivation. It means that if you are willing to enjoy something, you will find a way. If you are choosing to enjoy something, whatever you do will work!
In the practice of Vivation, we remember the Three Points:
- Breathe Into the strongest feeling.
- Track the subtle changes in your energy.
- Enjoy this moment as much as you can.
Since the purpose of Vivation is enjoyment, it makes questions about the practice easy to answer. For example, should I breathe through my mouth or my nose? The answer is: which one do you enjoy more right now? That’s what you should do!
You can do Vivation anywhere, anytime. You can do it for a few minutes or for an hour. Try it the next time you are feeling uncomfortable or unhappy.
Get your breath moving in a continuous, circular, connected breathing rhythm. Begin by breathing as fully and freely as you comfortably can. And then adjust your breathing to whatever speed and volume and intensity that you like.
Get out of your head and get into your breath. Practice body awareness. Use every exhale to relax more. Enjoy every breath as much as you can. And enjoy every feeling and sensation that arises in every moment, as much as you can.
Notice where the strongest feeling in your body is, and Inhale into or through that feeling. Notice the subtle moment-to-moment changes in your energy.
Imagine listening to your favorite music. If it is not loud enough—if you can’t hear it—how can you enjoy it? On the other hand, if the music is too loud, it is very difficult to enjoy.
It’s the same with Breath-Energy. You must breathe fully and deeply and actively enough to awaken energy. Breathe enough to trigger subtle or powerful tingling and electrical sensations—but not so much that it is frightening or uncomfortable.
Practice meeting and greeting every feeling that arises in you with the breath, with relaxation, and with conscious awareness. Remember that all your feelings are safe, that it’s safe to feel all your feelings. Don’t be afraid of your own energy, of your own aliveness!
You are an infinitely powerful being of light. Life is intense. Love is intense. Joy is intense. And profound peace is intense. Use Vivation to learn how to enjoy opening and relaxing into intensity. If you do this, you will be awakening your natural healing and creative capacities, and you will be practicing self-liberation!
Good luck in your practice and many blessings on your path,
(Guchu Ram Singh)