Tag Archives: breathing

A Day in a Life: I Am Here

I focus on staying present. I am doing yoga.

“I am here,” I say. “I am here in this body, in this moment.”

“I am me,” I say. “I am me in this body.”

“I am this body,” I say. “I live here on earth in this body.”

“I am here,” I say. “I am me.”

I am present in this moment...

As I move and breathe, I bring my attention back again and again to the moment, to being present in my body. I thank myself for giving myself this healing time and I thank the universe for providing the paths I took to get to this moment of this day. I take each moment as sacred, as ritual.

I take a moment to write down my thoughts of awareness of being, of being in my body, of being in the moment of doing yoga somewhere in the world, a small speck of awareness in the universe, one small speck of knowing that I am alive, intent on being fully present in my body.

Sometimes I am pretty aware of being present in my body, but most often I am not. Most often I am somewhere else, my body along for the ride. But in this moment, I am aware that my body is my natural environment, my beingness resides in it and depends on it, needs it, trusts it. I am in the moment, present and enjoying the rituals of doing yoga, of breathing, and of being consciously aware.

Ritual of Fire

After I do yoga, I carry the wood from the woodpile. I build a fire and light it, another ritual. I am aware that this is a ritual performed by millions of others. Since fire became a part of human life this ritual has been important. As I carry out the steps of making my fire, I am aware that I am partaking in an ancient practice of firemaking for the same reasons that eons of people have made fires. I do not cook over my fire, but I seek warmth. I am part of an ancient ritual today as I make my fire. I honor the ritual and I honor myself in the process of partaking in this ritual. I honor all who have done this before me.

I take time to notice that I am present. I am me. I am in my body, present in this moment doing this ritual. In the next moment the fire is burning well. I can turn to other things now, back to my writing, back to preparing for other rituals that come throughout the day, if I care to see them as such.

I remind myself to slow down and take the time to feel myself in my body often throughout the day, present in the moment and in my awareness of being, as often as possible. I remind myself to remain aware that my daily activities and chores are part of my ritual life too.

Honor and create ritual

I remind myself to invent new rituals as I go along, making life sacred, simply because it is and it deserves to be lived in sacred fashion. I deserve it, the earth deserves it, all creatures—man included—deserve the honor of sacred ritual. If we all slowed down and made our personal lives sacred rituals, if we all invented our own personal rituals—honoring and thanking ourselves, our bodies, others in our lives, the universe—perhaps we’d end up with enough pauses full of calmness and peace to temper the otherwise busy and fast-paced world we live in.

When we slow down enough we realize we don’t really need that fast-paced world. We discover we don’t really want to live like that. When we slow down we discover that we, by our very animal nature, are more connected to the earth and the sacred ritual of a simple life than we realized. When we slow down we walk and breathe the pulse of the earth and it calms us and nurtures us beyond anything else we might have available.

We desire our vacations by the ocean, a lake, in the calmness of the mountains or meadows because we are animals who crave nature’s slow pace and the beat of our heart knows this. By establishing our personal rituals we automatically slow to the beat of our heart, and automatically our perception of our personal place in the world shifts too. We actually become one with nature, connected and aware of being in the moment, in our bodies, in the right place: in total beingness.

The Sacred Beat of Nature

No matter what is going on around us or inside us, when we slow everything down and take a sacred moment we are at peace. Even if only for a moment, it is enough.

Tomorrow I will build a different fire, but the ritual, the process, will have the same ancient energy in it. Whether I focus on the ritual of it or not, whether I am as aware as I am today, I will still be tapping into the energy of ancient ritual. I know this energy of infinity, as ancient as the tapping of my own heartbeat. It is as ancient as the tapping of your own heartbeat, one pulse, beating for eternity. The ritual is already present. We just have to make ourselves available to it and tap into it.

As humans we have so much available to us. Our creative energy begs us to pause and pay attention to its insistence that we are not so modern as we might believe. We are ancient energy and we know instinctively how to connect with it and what to do with it.

Find sacred ritual in life, in nature, in self. Be in the moment. Be present in the body self. Breathe with awareness. That too is ritual. Be thankful to the self and the universe and then pause and listen to its reply. In the calm beat of your own heart you will hear its resonant beat.

Present in the moment, in calmness, in beingness,

A Day in a Life: Recapitulation & Breathing

During the process of recapitulation it helps to have support. This support can come in many forms. During my own recapitulation, not only did I work closely with Chuck as teacher and guide, but I also did a lot of yoga and meditation. Specific breathing practices and gentle, self-caring yoga helped immensely as I recapitulated a lot of old and unpleasant stuff. I also did Embodyment Therapy to aid in the physical release of memory. These practices were extremely helpful and right, fitting my personality. In the beginning I also used physical exertion as a means of countering the mental and physical stresses that arose as a result of recapitulating, running and walking off a lot of the onslaughts of infinity, and doing specific magical passes to aid in bearing the tension. However, the deeper I went into my recapitulation the more important it became to allow for and find support for long buried feelings and emotions that needed not only release but to become acceptable. There also comes a point where compassion for the self and others, including the petty tyrants in our lives, becomes necessary for true evolution to take place.

The shamanic sweeping breath, a magical pass, was one of the most helpful of all breathing exercises during recapitulation. Breathing in fresh positive energy and expelling old negative energy belonging to specific memories, people, and places was one of the most important parts of my recapitulation process. This breath not only stirs up memories but vivifies them as well, bringing details of experiences to fuller clarity. As we breathe out we release energy that does not belong to us, replacing it, on each in-breath, with new energy for ourselves alone.

Yoga breathing supports and brings clarity to deep inner work, aiding what is happening in the unconscious and in the physical body. Learning to breathe into specific areas enhances and clarifies where our deepest needs, vulnerabilities, and issues lie. Breathing into the chakras can lead to encounters with our unknown selves, unlocking the mysteries of why we feel bruised or pain in certain areas of our bodies, releasing long buried memories physically buried in our very muscles, sinews, and bones. There are yoga breaths to open passageways into the body for fuller release, but there are equally as many breathing practices to slow down the onslaughts of infinity, bringing stability and calm, so that balance can be restored and maintained. Healing and self-caring breaths are as important as releasing breaths during recapitulation.

Tonglen breathing during meditation, or at anytime, is another supportive and life-changing process, leading to a level of enlightenment that gradually allows us to experience the world as energetically interconnected. As we breathe in the negative energy of guilts, fears, emotions, etc. and breathe out compassion, fearlessness, happiness, lightness, etc., we energetically send that positive intent out into the world. As we turn compassion for others into compassion for ourselves we learn how to let go of our ego’s needs and desires and replace them with loving kindness for ourselves and all sentient beings.

I recently had a personal experience of Tonglen breathing, experiencing it ultimately as the power of the energetic network that we are all hooked into whether we are aware of it or not. I was about to encounter a person with a lot of negative energy, a person I admittedly do not enjoy being with, one of my petty tyrants. Normally I gear up for such encounters by asking for help, guidance and accompanying good energy, by breathing and calming my own energy, and by continually reminding myself, while I am in the presence of this person, that I am just like this person, that I am the same, and that in order to truly heal myself I must achieve true compassion for this person.

As I was preparing to meet up with this person I decided to shift myself, to allow the possibility for this encounter to be different by practicing Tonglen breathing. I started as I left the house, first breathing in, one at a time, the fears, judgments, criticisms, negative attitudes, depressed energy, etc. of this person and breathing out compassion. Then I breathed in my own fears of this person, my own judgments, dislikes, uncomfortability, negative attitudes, etc. towards this person and breathing out compassion. I did this while I drove, a trip of perhaps fifteen minutes at the most. Upon arriving at my destination I continued to meditate upon compassionate loving kindness for this person, holding this uppermost in my thoughts, wanting to stay connected to this intent. This was all I carried with me at that point, feeling immensely lighter and relieved of my normal agita because of the breathing I had done.

Upon my arrival I was greatly surprised by the energetic lightness of this normally dark and negative person. It was immediately clear that this person had energy, and not just nervous or agitated energy, but actual calm and clear energy. The normal judgments and critical language, the depressed thoughts and oblivious actions that I associate with this person were overridden by this new energy. The lightness and clarity of this person’s energy lasted through most of our time together, waning only towards the end. My own energy, while I was with this person and even later, remained soft and compassionate, kind and open.

It was not until I was back in my car that it dawned on me that the Tonglen breathing I had done actually worked on an energetic level, as I have never experienced it before. It worked on behalf of the energy of another person, with quite dramatic results and it certainly worked on me, for I have no doubts about my own energetic experiences of that day. I walked in a new world with this person that day, in a world that had energetically shifted, in which we were freed of our normal business, relieved of old energy and old patterns of behavior. And it all happened on an energetic level without one word being spoken between us. It just was.

I am humbly grateful for the petty tyrants in my life, for the people who challenge me to confront my feelings and my normal means of coping, for the people who have hurt me, rejected me, abandoned me, for the people who criticize, judge, and dismiss me, for they are the ones who greet me on the path to enlightenment and ask me to change. At each encounter with a petty tyrant I am offered the opportunity to practice loving kindness and compassion, to energetically let go of what holds me bound and turn it into fresh, new, positive energy that really does make a difference, as I experienced.

Recapitulation is a many-faceted process. As we encounter memories we discover that they carry more than just the recall of an event. We encounter old energy, thoughts, feelings, emotions, judgments, criticisms, guilt, envy, pain, etc. We may also encounter many positive aspects of ourselves at other times in our lives. What we are also offered is the possibility to transform our perception of ourselves and others, as well as our view of the world. Finding support in even the most natural of life giving energy, in breathing, which we all do, is a practical and kind step to offer the self as the journey continues.

If you wish, feel free to share or comment in the Post Comment section below.

Sending you all love and good wishes, and good breathing too!

NOTE: A definition of Tonglen breathing can be found here or in Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart available in our Store under Spirituality. Embodyment Therapy is described here.

#699 Chuck’s Place: In-Body Experience

All the faculties, possibilities, and accomplishments of shamanism, from the simplest to the most astounding, are in the human body itself.”
-Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time (p. 199)

Today, I explore the value of achieving the full energetic potential of the human body by learning to breathe. As Castaneda suggests in the above quote, the gateway to the energy body is the physical body. In Hatha Yoga, and all yogas, the breath is the most important factor. In fact, yoga is all about breathing. In the asana called Savasana the body is calmed to its energetic vibratory state. This is the result of deep relaxation and full breathing, no obstructions. Full breathing entails breathing deeply into the abdominal cavity and filling the lower, middle, and upper parts of the lungs; it is also commonly called the three-part breath. Typically, most people limit their breathing to shallow breathing that only fills the upper lungs, leaving the abdominal area, in particular, unfilled and dormant.

The tensions of modern day life and the inner instincts are borne in the rigidity of the body, in what Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst from Freud’s inner circle, called character armour. Reich, whose main area of focus was on the body, theorized that most of what the human race accepts as climax or orgasm is incomplete, as the natural involuntary movements of coitus are generally restricted by the ego’s inability to let go to full body release. His most famous student, Alexander Lowen, founded the Bioenergetic School of Psychotherapy to address the rigidities in the body that inhibit the full realization of physical pleasure in modern day men and women.

Fear, whether it be generated by the ego’s discomfort with the instinctual animal self or by trauma, or simply by the conjuring mind itself, often registers in the body as a constriction in the throat, resulting in shallow respiration. Deep instinctual impulses or psychic complexes may also be held back or stored in the stomach and abdomen, as well as in other parts of the body. Shallow breathing results in a numbness, or lifelessness, a virtual disconnect from the body below the head. Cultural norms that insist upon flat stomachs further rigidify the midsection of the body, forcing it to be held in. As a consequence of these types of bodily restrictions, middle and lower lung breathing is rarely accomplished in daily life, creating an in-body state of dissociation.

In-body association is critical to both wholeness and furthering our evolutionary potential in the energy body state. Many people who have had out-of-body experiences (OBEs) as a result of trauma must first re-associate their physical body to further their OBE exploration. This requires opening up the connection between the head and the rest of the body, which includes full breathing without obstruction. In fact, shamanic recapitulation, which is the practice of re-associating all of life’s experiences on an energetic level, includes a deep breathing magical pass.

I suggest, in addition to other practices involving healing and wholeness, that a focus be placed on learning how to naturally breathe into the abdominal area. Bringing awareness to the abdominal area, relaxing it, allowing it to begin filling with air while breathing in through the nose, and contracting the abdomen while exhaling through the nose, is a good first step in learning to connect with and discover the full energetic benefits of deep breathing. This can be practiced regardless of constriction that might be felt in the throat. Consistent practice may allow the rest of the lungs to fill, flowing from the abdominal area in full three-part breathing, eventually allowing the head to release its fear and constriction to this deeper connection.

Breathing is our most natural bodily instinct and our greatest bodily need. Our first and most important act is to take the breath of life. So, breathe fully! Breathe with awareness, allowing for deep in-body experience, the gateway to everything!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

The following books are available in our Store: The Wheel of Time under the Shamanism category and Yoga and Health under Resources.