“Breathing is massively practical,” says Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and author of the book ‘Breathe,’ …It’s meditation for people who can’t meditate.” –Source: NYTimes.com
What I’m Reading: Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction
Author’s Key Points
- Controlled breathing has been shown to “reduce stress, increase alertness and boost your immune system.”
- Symptoms in such conditions as anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder have all shown to decrease with conscious breathing techniques.
- Coherent breathing, stress relief (“rock and roll breathing“), and energizing HA breath are three types of techniques you can try right now
Breath: An Essential of Energy Work
Did you know controlled breathing is also an important part of energy work? In qi gong, breath is considered the second of three essentials to energy work practice. As far back as 168 BCE the Chinese had already been documenting breathing techniques for health (see: 卻穀食氣, Que Gu Shi Qi). Of course, it’s not just breathing for breathing’s sake that makes the practice essential. It’s about integrating the body-mind-spirit through breath, intention and movement/posture. I love this quote from a pupil’s Qi Gong Master on the subject, “movement without breath integration has limited health benefits and practice without mind is a waste of time.”
Energy Work Breathing Techniques
Countless ‘schools’ of energy work also employ mindful breathing techniques to facilitate the shift into altered states of consciousness. Coupled with intention, the breath can also direct different energies into the body (such as Heavenly energy, Earth energy, or the Rays, etc). In Reiki, we regularly use the breath to move Reiki energy through more powerfully. We can blow Reiki symbols into the auric bodies and/or chakras; and/or we can channel Reiki through the breath when we ‘beam’ Reiki into the aura. If you’re interested in exploring the world of energy work and breathing techniques, here are some starting places for you:
Set Your Compass, then Breathe
You can learn to breathe and to breathe mindfully; but to what end? Without a compass setting for your practice, meaningful progress won’t be far in my experience. This is where studying with a teacher or within a system can be helpful if not essential. This is also why I like to teach energy work as a hybrid course with Reiki. In my opinion, it is not enough to know we can effect change with intention and practice. We also need to know why we want to do so. What are we hoping to co-create in this world through our words, actions, and exchanges? It’s this rectification of paradigm, I believe, that facilitates the necessary internal shift(s) that move us towards a more meaningful and peace-filled life.
Why and when do you breathe mindfully?
Has mindful breathing helped you in your life? How? I’d love to hear about it the comments. (PS there’s an excellent version of the Mindfulness of Breathing practice on the Insight Timer for anyone with that iPhone/iPad app, “Anapanasati Breathing Meditation,” by the Samahita Thera Forest Sangha.)