Meditation And The Breath

How breath control is used with meditation

Most yoga and tai chi instructors tend to shy away from teaching meditation. However meditation is the pathway to experiencing our relationship with all there is. In order to move into the meditative state it is necessary to take up the study of pranayama. This is interpreted as controlling the breath. The idea here is to affect the balance of the hemispheres of the brain through working with the breath. Ancient yogis realized that the nostrils were connected with the brain and that the right nostril controlled the left side of the brain and the left nostril controlled the right side of the brain. Therefore if we were to inhale only through the right nostril we could affect the left hemisphere, which is associated with common sense, business decisions and real life experiences. The opposite is true for inhaling through left nostril, affecting the right hemisphere that is associated with intuition and art forms.

If we were to witness the breath cycle all day we would discover that either the left nostril or the right nostril was working. If you remember the last time that you had the flu you probably felt a moment when one clogged nostril opened up and the other nostril closed up. This happens automatically approximately every one hour and twenty-six minutes. Thus our brains switch hemispheres at the same rate and we can go from using our common sense to using our intuition throughout our daily life experience.

The next part of the puzzle was the discovery that the meridian on each side of the spinal cord was connected with the nostrils and when we were using one nostril the associated meridian was open and the reverse when the other nostril was being used. These two meridians started at the base of the spine and intersected at each chakra or energy center along the spine. By regulating the breath through the nostrils we both affected the right or left side of the brain and the associated meridian along the spine. Once the energies in the meridians were balanced, the lobes of the brain balanced and the energy started to flow up the middle of the spinal cord instead of the meridians. That energy moved up the seven chakras to the top of the head. At that point the top of the head felt as if it were opening and the energy in the spine merged with the energy of the universe.

Now that we understand the theory, how does the actual practice work? First find a quiet place in your home. Next sit either on a chair with a straight back or on the floor cross-legged with your back supported against a wall. Wear loose clothing and above all get comfortable. You do not want to be moving around as we practice breath control and meditation. Put your left hand in your lap. Take your right hand and be prepared to work with your right thumb and next to the last finger. Close off your right nostril with your right thumb, take an inhale and count tothree, close both nostrils and count to three, open the right nostril and count to three on the exhale, inhale thru the right nostril count to three, hold both nostrils count to three and exhale thru the left nostril counting to three. Practice this method for 5 minutes then put your right hand in your lap and with your eyes closed draw your consciousness inward and just witness your breath. Relax your whole body as you concentrate on the movement of the breath in your body. Imagine that your whole body is soft inside and the breath is filling and emptying that softness. Sit for approximately five minutes. You have now initiated your first meditation practice along with pranayama. As you get more comfortable with the practice increase the pranayama time and meditation time. You can vary the count and eventually use the ratio of 1-4-2. Count 1 on the inhale, hold the breath for 4 and exhale for 2. Next you can use any multiple of the ratio. An example could be 4-16-8 or 6-24-12. Always try to increase both breathing and meditation times together.

If you can set aside some time each day for your practice, your life will slowly start to change. Your mind will start to calm, thoughts will quiet down and an exquisite feeling of peacefulness and tranquility will manifest inside of you. Eventually you will experience profound states of calmness in which your true nature will manifest. Meditation leads to spirituality as you experience the relationship of mind body and soul.