Awareness is what we are, more about that which we have always been, and will never cease to be. We have all experienced it. No matter what we do, we can not diminish our true nature. We can, however, obscure it.
A key to being in touch with this indwelling awareness resides in our ability to relax. In the West, we are deeply orientated ‘to doing’. The very act of striving creates stress and pulls us away from awareness. To unlock our stress, learning to relax the ‘tightening of doing’ is essential.
Our body’s primary mechanism for relaxing is to access the breath.
It is helpful to understand that our body’s contain an energetic (or subtle) anatomy along with the physical one. Aside from bones, blood and organs, we also have chakras, energetic channels and inner winds. Our breath is the interface between the subtle and gross worlds. The breath supports the movement of the blood and is the prana that moves the winds in the subtle bodies.
Breath is health. How we breathe is essential to the body’s wellness. All the major traditions of belief have emphasized the importance of breath. Great masters throughout history have understood this dynamic interplay of breath and the subtle anatomy. They warned us not to confuse the outer breath of oxygen with the inner breath of prana.
Our traumas, stress, and the five poisons (anger, greed, pride, jealousy and ignorance) act like a rope squeezing our physical (lungs) and subtle anatomy, constricting our breath. This squeezing is painful, so we hold our breath in an effort to suppress the pain. This exacerbates the tension. By using the breath you can undo this habit, and retrain yourself to breathe deep and wide, no matter the experience. The result is you regain your health, peace and inner joy.
No one can breathe for you, and doing intensive breathwork helps transform the stress held by the breath. As you alter the holding pattern, everything from the subtle cellular level to the physical manifestation, transforms. The most practiced athletes, singers and musicians who are intimately aware of their breath, discover places they had not experienced as they loosen ‘the metaphoric rope’ from their lungs.
Any moment is the perfect moment to take a conscious breath. Breathe deep into your abdomen, and place your awareness on the pelvic floor this will soften it, giving the diaphragm more space. Like a wave, breathe into the pelvic floor and expand up to the sides of the ribs to the shoulders, neck and head. Allow the exhale to release without resistance like a soft sigh.
If resistance arises, simply be aware of it; no pushing or willing it to be different. As the breath softens, the body relaxes the layers of gross and subtle tension it is carrying. By harnessing this relaxation response you are able to reside more and more in your awareness. To know your breath, is to know your Self.