Breath Philosophy

Breath is the universal factor of life. We are born – and the first thing we do is to inhale, and when we die, the last thing we do is to exhale. Breath is life itself. 

Osho says,

“Breath and life have become synonymous. Breathing is the mechanism of life, and life is deeply related to breathing. That is why in India we call it prana. We have given one word for both – prana means the vitality, the aliveness. Your life is your breath.

“Your breath is a bridge between you and your body. Constantly, breath is bridging you to your body, connecting you, relating you to your body. Not only is the breath a bridge to your body, but it is also a bridge between you and the universe. The body is just the universe which has come to you, which is nearer to you.” 

Breathing is only one process that delivers oxygen to where it is needed in the body and removes carbon dioxide. Another important process involves the movement of blood by the circulatory system.

All that lives, breathes – even plants and bacteria. The process of breath is identical in all, consisting of inhalation and exhalation. This forms the text of the Incredible String Band’s song, Air:

Breathing, all creatures are

Brighter then than the brightest star

You are by far

You come right inside of me

Close as you can be

Ancients commonly linked the breath to a life force. The Hebrew Bible refers to God breathing the breath of life into clay to make Adam a living soul. It also refers to the breath as returning to God when a mortal dies. The terms ‘spirit’, ‘Qi’ and ‘psyche’ are related to the concept of breath.

Breath is literally the bridge connecting all of these aspects of our being and our existence. It can become blocked and the effects that it can have worked against our sense of aliveness and well-being. By breathing less fully into life, we are able to avoid, to a greater or lesser extent, uncomfortable feelings and emotions. It is also a way of continually suppressing these sensations and thus, via classical conditioning, these inhibitions become habitual.

…breath is intimately

linked with our emotional

state of being.

The problem here is two-fold. By decreasing our oxygen intake we reduce the supply of oxygen to the brain and body, which then reduces its ability to function and has been shown to lead to a variety of psychophysiological issues. It also means that, rather than processing the issues we have in our day-to-day life, they are suppressed and stored in our subconscious. These stored issues, as well as taking a large amount of energy to suppress, condition how we experience our reality. If the issue involved physical danger, then by storing this, we can believe that the world is a dangerous place and we will thus attract or interpret events via this belief and repeatedly prove it to be so.

Many of our beliefs and behavioral patterns come from our formative years. During this time, we are like a sponge, soaking up impressions and making conclusions about life. However, these conclusions are not always accurate, particularly if based upon extreme, traumatic events.

We have suppressed these issues so well and become so accustomed to our way of experiencing life, and indeed of breathing, that we are generally unaware of this cause and effect relationship; usually, we only see the results. It is therefore imperative if we wish to evolve physically, mentally, and spiritually, that we release our breathing inhibitions and all of the emotional baggage that we have inside so we can experience life and its wonders with eyes unconditioned by fear.

…breath is the natural

and logical basis

for meditation…

It is known that breath is intimately linked with our emotional state of being. Through healing modalities such as breathwork, it is now known that breath has the power to access our subconscious and all of the traumas and behavioral patterns stored within. It also has the power to transform and release these issues.

There are few people in the world who know how to effectively deal with emotional issues. Nearly all of us use one means or another to suppress such feelings, be it ice cream or chocolate, sex, drugs, or alcohol. This avoidance is known to cause anxiety and depression as well as increased sympathetic arousal, which then holds the body in a constant and chronic state of stress. Coupled with these issues is breathing inhibition. Osho says,

“Breathing and thinking are deeply connected as if they are two poles of one thing. You also sometimes become aware, if you are a little mindful, that whenever the mind changes, the breathing changes. For example, you are angry: immediately the breathing changes, the rhythm is gone. The breathing has a different quality. It is non-rhythmic.

“When you have passion, lust, sex takes over, the breathing changes; it becomes feverish, mad. When you are silent, just not doing anything, just feeling very relaxed, the breathing has a different rhythm.”

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