Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Breath awareness

Today I spent some time hanging out in a used book store and I found The Inner Art of Vegetarianism Workbook: Spiritual Practices for Body and Soul by Carol Adams. I want to share with you this passage on breathing:
Breathing time is space to recover, to become refreshed, to start again. Breathing time helps us to experience how we are the breathing partners of plants. This breathing technique reminds us of our relationship with the plants who need our carbon dioxide just as we need the oxygen they produce. It also helps us relax and become energized.

* Sit comfortably in a chair or in the meditation posture on the floor...
* Inhale slowly through your nostrils.
* As you inhale, imagine that the air you are inhaling is a white cloud filled with pure oxygen.
* Watch as this white cloud fills your lungs completely.
* Suspend your breath (neither inhale nor exhale) and watch as this white cloud permeates your lungs, enters your bloodstream, and travels throughout all of your body - all the way to your fingertips and your toes.
* Exhale slowly, releasing what remains of the white cloud.
* Watch as it exits your nostrils as a smoky, de-oxygenated cloud.
* Suspend your breath (neither inhale nor exhale) and imagine that your lungs are empty. See the plants and trees that surround you absorb the carbon dioxide.
* Repeat this breath-sharing practice at least ten times and notice how you feel afterwards.

Once you have practiced this technique sitting, you can practice it standing, while cooking, or in the midst of other movements.

It strikes me that this would be a good settling exercise before beginning to meditate - that one could do it instead of stretching or in addition to stretching in order to calm the body. Or, as described, it can be an exercise that stands on its own.

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