The breath is the basis of our being and without it, we cannot survive. It is one such unique process in the body which is controlled by the autonomic as well volitional centers of the brain. On the subtle plane, breath and states of consciousness are interconnected and on the physical level, it corresponds to our nervous system. Breathing is normally controlled by autonomic nervous system and brain centers (Medulla and Pons), when we are not controlling the breath. Breathing is one activity which we can control at our will – using the higher centers of the brain, otherwise, lower centers of the brain regulate our breathing when our mind is occupied somewhere else.
How Our Mental States Control Breathing
As we know, the rhythm of the breath is directly affected by our physical as well emotional states. Even this association of our breath and mental states reflects in our language and daily vocabulary, when we
It becomes very evident that our breath is the easiest and the most effective tool to enter our inner environment. The fluctuations of our emotional states are difficult to control, but we can control the breath, and the conclusion is obvious. By learning to breathe smoothly, gently, and without irregularities, we can greatly reduce distracting thoughts as well as gain a heightened sense of concentration and focus. So, the first step – before any actual pranayama technique is undertaken – is that we tune into the rhythm of the breath and learn to regulate it.
Conscious And Unconscious Breathing
Unconscious control of the breath originates in the medulla oblongata region of the brain stem (a region – otherwise – known as the
As Swami Rama says, “If you need control, then choose breath as the object upon which to meditate. Remember that the equal exchange of inhalation-exhalation always leads you to tranquility”.1
There is one simple Pranayama technique (breathing technique) known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, which helps to tone the autonomic center and enhances the level of relaxation.
Perform this technique.
2. Now, place first two fingers of the right hand on the eyebrow center and close the right nostril with the thumb. Now, through the left nostril, inhale slowly and deeply with the count of 5 and then, close the left and exhale through the right nostril with the count of 7. At the end of exhalation, this time – inhale through the right nostril with the same count of 5 and exhale through the left with the count of 7. This is 1 round of the practice.
3. This way, continue the practice for 7–10 cycles/rounds.
This is an excellent practice to relax the nervous system and calm down the nerves in quick time. People who suffer from insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety disorder, stress, and migraine
Throughout this process of breathing, make sure there is no unnecessary stress or jerks in breathing in or out. Your breathing should be very relaxed, slow, rhythmic, and deep.
|↑1||O’Brien, Justin. Walking with a Himalayan Master: An American’s Odyssey. Yes International, 2007.|