All about breath
The term “Swara” or “Svara” is essentially a Sanskrit term which means the flow of air through nasal cavities. It is also the sound that is produced by the flow of air through both the nostrils. The term “Udaya” expresses the rise or which is perceptible. So “Swarodaya” describes the perception or alertness of “Swara” or the breath. The sound may vary from a hiss to a snore but the effect of breathing on body chemistry is far reached.
There is an intricate connection of breath with the physiological and psychological functioning of our body and mind. We could feel the change in our breathing pattern with the change of our moods and physical variances.
When we are angry, the breathing becomes short and fast whereas when we are at peace, our breathing changes to deep and slow. This small observation proves the connection between the respiratory process with body and mind.
Breathing, as it seems, is a biological process which has numbers of facets depending on scientific and spiritual understandings.
Lets us probe into these before we delve into its depth.
What are the physiological aspects of breathing?
1) This process is basically the intake of oxygen through the nostrils into the lungs which in turn expels carbon dioxide by the oxidation (chemical process) of complex organic substances.
2) Depending on the variation of moods; the biochemical reactions result in the secretion of endocrine hormones which affects the breathing cycle drastically.
3) Breathing is the only means which keeps the external and internal system connected. Respiration is the process which forces the diaphragm of our body to inflate downwards to facilitate the inflation of the lungs thus resulting in the suction of air from outside. On the other hand; our lungs forces the carbon dioxide by contraction of muscles.
4) As the mood alterations affect the breathing cycle; it happens to be the other way round too. Manipulating or rather controlling the breath changes the mood.
5) The breathing through left or right nostrils can predict the type of psychosomatic state of an individual along with the type of activity that a person should conduct to have the optimum benefit.
6) Breathing affects brain functions by inducing the frequencies (alpha, beta, etc.). These frequencies alter the state of consciousness which eventually affects our perceptions.
Philosophy of Breath
The apparent reality that encircles us varies in different forms. We perceive this world according to our own framework of reality which we have weaved with our experiences, cultural and educational processes, interactions with others and our mostly with our imaginations based on these understandings.
This body is a gateway to other dimensions if we know how to align it. Controlled breathing slowly tunes our body and mind which in turn gives us a way to transcend this unreal world and perceive our true self.
In the sacred text of “Vijnanabhairava”, numerous forms of meditations are documented amongst which many are related to breathing. In “Hatha Yoga” the union of sun and the moon is the major objective while “Ha” means sun and “Tha” relates to the moon. The solar nerve or “nadi” is the “Pingala” on the right side of the human body while the lunar nerve or “Ida nadi” is situated on the left side. Both the nerves meet at the base of the human spine also known as Muladhara in tantra and make a helical system that converges on the pineal gland or Trikuti but doesn’t meet there. This point is known as “Mukta Triveni” or the untied braid of three bands (read nerve) and in the root chakra, it is known as “Yukta Triveni” or tied/merged braid of three bands.
I am mentioning a few of them.
1) Fix your attention on the “Prana” or the air which we are inhaling and follow it to that point where the “Apana” or the exhalation takes place. So, it is actually asking us to meditate on the point where the “Prana” and the “Apana” meets. If we relate to this process then we have to concentrate mentally on the nostrils where the inhalation and exhalation take place.
Practicing this process leads to gradual control over breath and the “Kumbhaka” or the total retention of breath automatically happens.
This is the best form of “Kumbhaka” and this alters the state of consciousness and the true knowledge emerges from inside.
2) Retention of “Prana” outside the body establishes “Krita Kumbhaka” or the retention of breath which is attained with effort. Practicing this process also facilitates inner knowledge to get unveiled.
This process demands a disciplined lifestyle otherwise it may lead to physiological malfunction.
3) Retention of “Prana” inside the body also helps us achieve this level but a disciplined lifestyle is absolutely necessary.
4) Unification of the solar nerve (“Pingala Nadi”) and lunar nerve (“Ida Nadi”) also leads to “Kumbhaka”. This unification happens in the naval region or exactly in the solar plexus.
There are many more methods based on breathing patterns which essentially involves chakras but for the common people, practicing the natural way is the best as the other methods essentially need to have a disciplined life.
“Pawan Vijaya Swarodaya”, is the most descriptive and authentic book written on the science of breathing.
Here we find how to understand the rise and set of the five elements in our breathing patterns throughout the day and night.
How to interpret the beath at any point of time and act according to it.
The body chemistry is tuned with our breathing habits and our psyche behaves based on the elemental components which our respiration gives birth to.
Well, this is a science for those who intend to acquire a heightened conscious level through a regulated airflow within and without our body. This a methodical rule which requires a precisely scheduled routine towards salvation. But, with the sense of urgency developed to attain absolute truth, these psycho-physiological activities automatically happen within us.
Not the end!
This science is just the other way round to achieve the same.
You can try this as an experiment and see the results. Those, who only seek physical and mental well being shall gain much for sure.
Those who only seek the unadulterated realization of absolute truth, this will happen within them as an obvious symptom of a rightful path.