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Centering through Conscious Breathing*

Conscious breathing is a soma-psyche (body-mind) practice. Taken from Yoga, it is a gentle beginning “Pranayama”. “Prana” is energy/breath and “yama” is control. It is an exercise in consciously controlling the breath.  When we consciously control the breath, through breathing exercises, we open, clear and change the flow of energy in the body. When we do that  we also change our sensory, mental, emotional and spiritual experience of being in the world

Centering is to come to a state of consciousness from being centered within oneself. This inner state is experienced as a state of truthfulness, integrity - a sensing of one's true self - a natural state of being.

Conscious Breathing is a body-based (somatic) psychosynthesis Centering Exercise. The benefits are most notably a state of detached awareness, in meditation and yoga this is called ‘non-attachment’, in psychosynthesis it is called disidentification. In all these approaches the effect is to facilitate a state of inner harmony, support right relationship and self-realization. (p. 18)

Common Benefits include:

Bringing oneself to quietness, calmness, grounding, softening, releasing tension, bringing clarity to the mind, coming into a state of non-attachment, being at ease, expanding your breath capacity, detoxing the body, an exchange of oxygen and chemistry in the brain, altering your state of consciousness, coming into a state of meditation, a state of 'big mind', mental spaciousness, seeing the whole picture, detachment and disidentification, lessening the control of the ego-mind, feeling at peace and a sense of gentle happiness, opening to receive, slowing down and becoming more compassionate and empathic, a state of meditation, reflection, enhancing focus and concentration, a greater sense of connecting to ones sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Conscious Breathing Exercises

Breathe naturally: In the beginning just breath as naturally as you can and over time, after a number of repetitions, the breathing rhythm and length of breath will begin to come into a steady and even pacing and each inhale and exhale will begin to get longer.

Benefits of Repetition: Try to do the same number of times for each nostril. At first your breathing may be erratic. Do enough repetitions so that you begin to sense, experience, a shift in erratic breathing to a natural, consistent, and equal rhythm and pacing for each inhale and exhale.  Each inhale and exhale will begin to get longer and longer over time thus expanding breath capacity and exercising you breathing muscles.

    (1) Single nostril breathing:

  • Sit and lengthen through your spine so that your front body, the breath body, is open
  • Hand positions: Mudras are energy locks.
    • Right hand: fold and bring your index and middle finger of your right hand onto your palm so that your thumb, ring finger and little finger are pointing upward.
    • Left hand: Rest the back of your left hand palm upward on your left knee - press your thumb and index finger together as though you are holding a dime. The other 3 fingers are straight and point away from the palm.)
    • Close right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and breath in and out of the left nostril. 5 times
    • Then close the left nostril with the ring finger of you right hand and breath in and out of your left nostril 5 times.
    • Breathe through both nostrils simultaneously 5 times.

If you want to you can repeat the whole set 2 or more times, or you increase the number of breaths up 8 or 10 repititions.  When you are finished you can pause with your right hand on your right knee in the same murdra as the left hand and just breathe naturally and notice how you feel, or you can go right onto the next practice

    (2) Alternate Nostril Breathing:

    • Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and breathe in through the left
    • Then close the left nostril with your right ring finger and exhale through the right nostril
    • Keep the left nostril closed and in hale through the right
    • Then release the left and close the right and exhale through the left
    • Repeat each set 5 times

If you want to you can repeat the whole set 2 or more times, or you increase the number of breaths up 8 or 10 repititions.  When you are finished you can pause with your right hand on your right knee in the same murdra as the left hand and just breathe naturally and notice how you feel, or you can go right onto the next practice

    (3) 3-part breathing

    • Rest both hands on your knees palms facing upward
    • Breathe through both nostrils sending your breath to your navel
    • Continue inhaling as you send the breath to fill up yours ribs
    • Continue inhaling and fill up your collar bones
    • Exhale completely
    • Repeat 5 times or more

Imagine your body from the navel to the collar bones is like a glass and that you are filling the glass with breath 1/3 at a time: first you fill up the lower 3rd (the navel), then the next 3rd (the ribs), then all the way to the rim (the collar bones). When you exhale imagine you are pouring out the air a little at a time. Start with a natural breath and eventually try to make the exhale last as long as the inhale.
Over time the inhale and exhale will expand and lengthen.
 

When you are finished you can pause with your right hand on your right knee in the same murdra as the left hand and just breathe naturally and notice how you feel. 

* Mindfulness is a core principle of all practices.  Proceed mindfully and gently and only continue these, or any exercises, if you arecomfortable doing them and are freely choosing to do so.

Assagioli, Roberto.  1965, 2000 Edition. Psychosynthesis: A Collection of Basic Writings. The Synthesis Center, Inc. Amherst, MA.

 

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