We all need to breath to live. Our bodies do it automatically. So why do some ceremonies in “The Magic Circle” suggest taking several slow deep lung-filling breaths? Doesn’t our body take care of breathing without help from us?
Breath brings prana into the body. Prana is a Sanskrit word for life force. It’s a cosmic energy that connects the Everything. When we inhale, prana, or life energy, enters our lungs and is carried to all the cells of our bodies, bringing us relaxation, energy and health. If our breathing is shallow, we don’t bring in much life force energy.
Breathing exercises are an important part of yoga and martial arts. The ancient cultures that developed these practices knew the benefits of filling our lungs with air to ground us in our bodies and quiet our minds.
In an Aikido dojo, I saw a young boy enter with his father. Together they knelt and bent their heads to the floor in respect for the teachings they would receive. There was an aura of peace around them.
One of the main benefits of slow deep breathing is inner silence. Our busy mind slows down it’s chattering. Then when we ask ourselves questions like “Who am I?” or “Why am I here in this body right now?” we can hear the answers from our wise selves, our higher selves. Buddhist teacher Bodhipaska says “breathing is the gateway to insight.” When we meditate, deep breathing brings us into the silence of spiritual awareness. Right now I am doing a Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation series. A grade three teacher, who played the meditations for her students, said they looked forward to their daily meditation times and always looked calm and joyful afterwards. The Dalai Lama has said, “If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world in one generation.” With breath, we can find inner peace and know we are all connected.
-written by Ann Dickie