Observing my breath – 1

There is something super-natural in the act of breathing or in the breath – I don’t know how, what, where, or when for sure. But everything that I read and experience appears to indicate that the act of breathing holds the key to the universe. Let me cite what I am talking about.

  • praNayama and thousands of years of yoga and yogis: there have been countless books, practitioners of the art of breathing that have demonstrated its effects on the human body, the human mind, and its well-being. That’s proof enough.
  • Aurobindo: from a book that I read about his life-history, Aurobindo had learned praNayama from a friend and used to practise it every now and then. When he fled British India and entered French-controlled India (Pondicherry), he apparently practised breathing for 6-8 hours a day – each morning! He later claimed that he wrote his magnum-opus, Savitri, effortlessly and that the verses poured through his pen onto paper. Again, the effect of praNayama.
  • Jaggi Vasudev: in his videos, he says that as a young boy he would get lost in the act of observing his breathing and the rhythemic movement of his chest and belly. THis is nothing, but, vipassana in my understanding – but it came to him subconciously and not via some teacher. He also claims that watching his breathing has resulted in a lot of changes & revelations in his life.
  • Sri Sri Ravishankar’s entire Art of Living program is based around Sudarshan Kriya which is a set of breathing exercises.
  • Goenka & Vipassana: As simple as it gets – concentrate on your breath and the movement of air through your body/lungs.
  • Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita instructs that one should place his concentration on the tip of his nose and observe his breath. Again, an instruction for Vipassana-like meditation.
  • Even Nityananda (the mas who is always in the news for the wrong reasons and apparently has his own country now). Even he says the same thing. He says that the entire creation exists in the gap between an inhale and an exhale – the incoming and outgoing breath. He says that if one can live in that space, he becomes the Creator. Really?? Not sure about his claim – but its a powerful statement for one to make.

So, what is hidden in the act of breathing? What did the above-mentioned people do that led them to enlightenment? Is it an act of karma (from their previous births?) or is it due to deliberate practice of conscious breathing? I need to find out for myself.

Starting today, I am going to spend as much time as I can on observing my breath. I am going to follow what Goenka teaches in his basic videos on Vipassana. My chosen method for this phase is to –

  • sit in a quiet place
  • close my eyes
  • place my focus on the tip of my nose (not where the eyebrows meet – the other end)
  • observe the air flow in and out of my nostrils.
  • if my focus wavers, I will bring it back to the tip of my nose and the movement of my breath.

I hope this leads me further in my journey to finding out who I am. There is nothing else worth discovering – at least that’s what I think, now.

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