Day 255 – And just like that, today’s reading brings me to Part 4 (“Pranayama: Breathing Mindfully”). The opening read, not unexpectedly, describes pranayama as “the science of yogic breathing [which] trains the mind in one-pointed concentration while radically improving our ability to accrue, store, regulate, and use the energy we receive from the air we breathe.” It is a physical practice, which bridges our path to the metaphysical.
Unlike the last time I read this particular read, I know a little more about this pranayama–this technique, as I have been employing it in my yoga classes and in my daily life through with meditation. I have been experimenting with it. I have been, as Rolf suggests, observing “the effect this measured breathing has on…[the] physical and emotional experience.” At this point, I consider pranayama and meditation to be most of my daily yogic practice.
It occurs to me that it took some time to feel comfortable under the presence of great change; I tend to avoid dissonance with what I already thought I knew. How could something so simple alter our lives? Yet, following the “ebb and flow” of our attention while just breathing enlightens us to our thought patterns, our fears, our inner workings. It’s magical. And I imagine very few scientists, doctors, and know-it-alls can really explain what is happening to practitioners at a physiological level, let alone neurological, emotional, or spiritual level. This topic speaks to me on so many levels as a teacher, as well.
If you think about it, there is nothing more precious than the act of breathing. It is our life-force. We come into the world with a gasp and go out of the world with a gasp and take an infinite amount of breath in between. How we breathe is taken for granted by some, especially if we never have much of a problem. Like any thing, I suddenly encounter, I want to understand it and yet in just the act of measured, mindful breathing we get so much more; a calmness prevails. And that space fills with all the great metaphysical stuff. Yep, I’m on to Part 4.