What can the way you breath reveal about your relationship to life, or universal energy?
This is not a breathing exercise, or pranayama. Instead, it’s more of a pure observation of the gap between the breaths. I found this exercise to be so revealing for myself, because it was my own experience, not someone telling me, I was like this or like that. The revelation was so obvious and visceral, as to be undeniably true. Not only did it reveal much about the way I related to life, which gave me a few clues as to why I was so rung out, but by holding my attention on the gap between the breaths, I entered a portal to the universe and burst into the expansive nothingness. It was like finding a secret door leading directly to the divine. And it was right under my nose, ( literally) so obvious, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found it before. In yoga they say the breath is synonymous with life – what does that mean? With this simple exercise I found my first taste of this truth.. I have introduced this simple process to many clients and yoga students, as I believe there is nothing more powerful than our own experience. In fact, that is all that matters. It’s just that sometimes we miss the things closest to us, as we have been so conditioned to seek outside, so our awareness is always ahead of us. I am grateful for the opportunity and space I had to turn inward, to have been guided to this particular doorway as I was way too agitated in general to have been still enough to find it, even though I was desperate for the space. So I wanted to point you in this same direction and invite you to make your own experiment.
The Gap As Secret Door To The Universe.
If you want to use this practice to enter the portal to the universe start with alternate nostril breathing, to quieten your mind and deepen your presence. Although it is not necessary for the mere observation of the gap, but very helpful if you want to use the gap as a portal. Continue alternate nostril breathing to the point you are in an easy rhythmic flow. Now keeping your eyes closed with hands relaxed palms up on your thighs continue with following observation: Keep the observation light, putting as little thought to it as possible, just making a brief awareness of whether you’re resting in the gap after inhalation or exhalation. Then, continue with all your awareness being on the gap. To the point that you dissolve into the gap. No effort, no expectation, ONLY awareness of the gap. Don’t discard this practice if you don’t dissolve into the gap the first time you do it.
If you don’t want to turn this into a meditation, but want the awareness of what the gap can reveal to you, Continue with following instructions:
Sit comfortably with spine straight. Observe your natural breath. Now start to observe the gap between the breaths. After you inhale, there is a gap before you exhale. After your exhalation there is a gap before you inhale. Now bring all your attention to this gap between the breaths. Stay with all your awareness on the Gap, NOT the breath. Observe the gap after exhalation, and then the gap after inhalation. In which are you more relaxed? Or which gap is longer? One of these gaps will feel slightly easier to be in. This can be subtle or not. If it is subtle come back to it again. Relax about it; come with a relaxed attitude of curiosity. Remember you’re focused on the gap, not the breath.
You’re an exhaler:
if you feel more relaxed in the gap after the exhalation, or
the gap after exhalation is longer, then this indicates your exhalation is longer and you rest on the exhalation. If you exaggerated this pattern it can look like a collapse in the chest, the sternum can be slightly to severely depressed. If the breath is synonymous with life, Do you give out more than you take in? Do you find it easier to be a giver than a receiver, even though you would love to be given to, but the role you’re more familiar with, is as giver. Do you often feel burdened. Does life feel like hard work. Is it a struggle? Stay open and curious, nothing is wrong or right, You’re only interested in awareness.
Unravelling This Pattern;
Go with this unconscious pattern by focussing on exhaling . This way you are giving your body, more of what it is already doing, so you are going with it!. This gives your body unconscious permission to let go, or collapse. Horror of horrors, heaven forbid you actually “collapse”. There is often an unconscious fear of collapsing, what would happen to you, if you didn’t hold it all together? This is an unconscious, endlessly exhausting track. By becoming conscious of your natural breathing pattern, you can use it to help yourself relax and let go. If for example you’re feeling stressed, burdened, or your mind is racing, sit or lie down and focus on your exhalation. You can even count, 4 breaths in, 8 breaths out.
Any unconscious pattern is inherently limiting, as they are usually developed to protect our vulnerability.. There is nothing wrong with our patterns. None are better or worse than others. But by their nature, they limit our experience of who we are. We tend to feel more comfortable at one end of a polarity. e.g. giver – receiver. Life is full of polarities.. How many times have you wondered why you end up doing more for others than what you really want to, or have the energy for. There is only one way out of a pattern and that is going against it. This can be fun, scary but HUGELY Freeing. Experiment this week with noticing when you would normally agree to do something, or put yourself forward for something, to instead, hold back. Don’t offer to do anything, or actively drop some activities or duties that you don’t LOVE doing. Know that if you’re going against a deeply ingrained pattern, it will feel “wrong”, or very uncomfortable. Bringing uncomfortable feelings, or self-judgements to the surface, ” I should just do it, it won’t take much of my time”, ” I shouldn’t be so selfish”. ” Who else is going to do it, if I don’t” You get the picture..
You’re an inhaler:
If you rest in the gap after inhalation, or
If the GAP after inhalation is longer or more relaxing.
This looks like a propped chest. Imagine a military sergeant stance. Chest is puffed-up and lifted slightly to a lot. Different from someone with the ribcage tilted forward. This is more a holding on, feeling unsafe to let go and be vulnerable. Often highly anxious, driven, with not enough time to do everything you have set yourself to do. Driven by feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem or deep-seated fears.
Unravelling this pattern:
Let the chest soften, relax your shoulders and upper back. Let yourself feel your heart. Continue with longer inhalation, but direct it deeper into your body, send it to your abdomen, gently, without straining or effort. Let your heart sink back, let it move towards your spine. Whenever you find yourself racing into the future, rushing around unnecessarily, breath into your abdomen and focus on the present moment. Keep bringing yourself back to the present. And there’s no better way to do it, than follow your breath deep into your body.
The fact is everybody has one or the other of these patterns. Use your awareness of yours to free yourself, to show the utmost compassion for yourself. None of it is your fault. It’s just the material you have to work with, for your liberation. And there’s nothing more liberating than breaking out of our unconscious habits.