Conscious Breathing VII

Breathing In, Breathing Out
Charla Shamhart

Profile of Face with SwirlsImage Credit: Fractal Enlightenment

Charla Shamhart

Years ago I attended a retreat with Roy Eugene Davis, a direct student of Yogananda.  He asked the packed room of would-be meditators, “How many of you use breathing to go into meditation?”  A few of us raised our hands.  “How many of you use mantra to go into meditation?”  Again, a few of us raised our hands.  And then he said something that seemed to startle many of the aspiring yogis there.  “What do the rest of you use?  Those are the only two methods I know.”

Breathwork calms and focuses the mind so the dross of the world begins to drop away.  In opening the path for that to occur we are able to begin accessing the timeless way of the mystic to move beyond the limitations of form into the boundless universe of expended consciousness.

For most people, holding the focus on one point is next to impossible.  The mind is like a young puppy racing here and there and resisting the leash that breath or mantra impose on it, constantly guiding it back to the discipline of self-control.

In India there is a story of a yogi who was walking through the forest.  An ogre jumped out from behind a huge tree and grabbed him with the intention of killing and eating him.  Un-flustered, the yogi reached up to his chin, pulled out one of his curly beard hairs and handed it to the ogre saying, “First you must straighten this hair.”  The ogre straightened the hair but each time he released it, it curled again.  He became so engrossed in the challenge of straightening the hair that he completely forgot about eating the yogi, who went on his way.

Breath and mantra are like that curly hair which cannot be straightened.  They give the mind something on which to focus so the attention becomes undivided and ceases its constant chattering and wandering.  Because the mind is so clever, it can entertain more than one thought or action simultaneously.  Then it may be necessary to give it another task to occupy it.  Breath and mantra can be used together.  In doing this, we breathe in through the nostrils with attention and then as we breathe out through the mouth, we use a sound, a mantra, that rides out on the breath.  The classic mantra is ‘OM’.

Breathing in, breathing out; breathing in, breathing out; b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g in, b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g out.  Allowing the body to begin relaxing and letting go of all stress and tension.  Holding awareness on the flow of the breath moving in, moving out.

Eyes closed, breathing in, being conscious of the sensation of air flowing in through the nostrils.  Then the breath pauses momentarily and reverses.  Ever so gently we open our mouth and allow sound to flow out.  Ahhhh-O0000-Mmmmm.  Breathing in, breathing out.  I am one with the breath.  I am one with the sound.  The Breath of Life is breathing me.  I am one with the universe.