Monday, February 11, 2008

Release, and Allow: The Nourishing Power of the Breath

"Our most basic,common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

In Yoga and meditation practices, the breath is integral. In Yoga, we coordinate the breath with the bodily postures, and movement between postures to unite the body with the mind. With practice, we learn to notice our bodies as they exist in space. In meditation practices, as we intend to let go of discursive thoughts, we focus our mind instead on the breath. In basic terms if we are observing our breath, we can't be focusing on anything else at the same time.

 Organically, we know that the breath nourishes our lungs, filling them with all of the nutrients that the air provides. It not only nourishes our lungs but indeed every organ, every cell of the body.We know how important regularly filling our lungs is to our cardiovascular health. We can also recognize the ability we have, metaphorically, to use the breath, as we walk or as we meditate or as we practice yoga or fold clothes for that matter, to inhale all that is beneficial to us, and to exhale, or let go of all that no longer serves us. 

There are many different Breathing exercises in the Yogic traditions. When practicing the exercise called alternate nostril breathing,or Nadi Sodhana, one nostril is closed off and we breathe in through the other to a count of four. Then we hold for a count of four, and when exhaling, we switch nostrils and exhale to a count of 8. So when breathing in, we consciously align ourselves with all that we can take in from the world around us which is positive, uplifting, and beneficial to our functioning. With this nourishing breath, We are incorporating, then, 4 elements of good into our being, but when exhaling, we exhale,or release, twice as much of what doesn't serve our wellness; 8 elements of what doesn't serve to allow our ease. In so doing, our net, so to speak is our personal profit: which is 4 above breaking even. 

The more we let go of, the more we allow the GOOD to peak through--that "glass-half-fullness", the more we can focus, on what DOES serve us. Organically this practice is calming to the mind. It also involves both sides of the brain, aiming towards balance. 
And balance, is the key to wellness. 
When the mind and body are one, there is ease.

"Every thought we think changes our biochemistry. Your hormones are all affected by your thoughts. Pay attention to things that bring you joy. When I read the newspaper, I look for the good news."
— Dr. Christiane Northrop

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