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On the first Sunday of 2015, we discussed the topic of Awareness and Action in our weekly #SpiritChat conversation. One thread that emerged from that chat was related to the connection of (proper) breathing, and how it can create better awareness for us. We will explore this connection further in this week’s (Sunday, January 11th 2015) twitter chat.

From a biological perspective, we are all aware that the act of breathing sustains life. We may lose all our other physical and sensory capacities, but as long as breath remains, so does our mortal body. We often take our act of breathing for granted, because it is an involuntary action that our bodies mostly perform regularly, without our direct intervention or attention. For the most part, this works in our favor – it keeps us alive when we are sleeping or busy running around in our daily lives. The oxygen exchange of every breath enables cellular activity, the firing of neurons, the purification of blood, and much more.

From a mental perspective, breath, and the act of breathing is important too. If we break up the single cycle of breathing into four parts – inhalation, retention (or pause), exhalation, preparation (or pause) – each part of the cycle has a role in how it affects our mind. Being in awareness of the retention part of the cycle, which is the pause after we inhale, is said to directly affect our mental clarity. It is in that pause of retention that we have the ability to still the thought waves that constantly traverse our brain. Hence, awareness during breathing can lead us to a deep silence, the silencing of thought, stillness of the mind.

From a relaxation or “meditation” perspective, we are often advised to “take a deep breath” and then follow it up with a deep exhalation. In the first part, the inhalation, we can create the awareness that we are filling ourselves with goodness, with plenitude, with prosperity, and such. In the exhalation, we can practice the awareness of self-surrender, of humility, of giving back and such. Hence, awareness of inhalation, and the subsequent exhalation, can create a higher awareness – of balance. This balance is facilitated by the pause of retention, the pause that brings mental clarity.

So, the connections between breath and balance are manifold. When we are stressed, we often feel that we are “out of breath”. When we are physically unwell, our erratic breathing is often a symptom or manifestation of our unwellness. I am sure that you can think of many more connections of our lifebreath to our life and its actions.

“For all This is fixed to lifebreath, as spokes are fixed to the hub. Lifebreath proceeds by means of lifebreath, gives life breath, and gives to lifebreath ~ Upanishad

Our challenge is to pay attention to our breath. If we watch its motion, listen to it, even for a few minutes everyday, then, over time, we will learn to recognize the healthy, balanced pattern of our breathing. This awareness of balanced breathing, will then help us to apply “corrections” when we are not in balance. By practicing listening, we can create balance and wellness in every breath cycle.

I appreciate your reading, and wish you all the best of balance in every breath. If you have comments, suggestions, questions or corrections, please do share. I also invite you to share in our #SpiritChat on twitter – Sunday, January 11th at 9am ET / 2pm UTC.



The questions asked during the live hour…

Ready? Q1. "Take a deep breath in. Hold. Exhale. Hold." Repeat. What do you feel? #SpiritChat 

Q2. When we are highly inspired, we say, it "took my breath away". Who/what makes you feel that way? #SpiritChat 

Q3. Awareness. Which part of your (physical) breath cycle are you most aware of? Unwaware of? #SpiritChat 

Q4. What would you like to breathe into your life? Breathe out of your life? #SpiritChat 

Q5. We mostly breathe from a 'shallow' place. How can we 'correct' this? Why should we correct it? #SpiritChat 

Q6. On balance. Can breath-awareness help to create outer and inner balance? Why or why not? #SpiritChat 

Q7. "All growth happens when we are out of balance". If so, then why is balance even important? #SpiritChat 

Q8. What is the connection between breath, balance and stress. Please share. #SpiritChat 

Q9. Take a deep breath. Send a message about life and living to the world... Thank you! #SpiritChat 

Final Q10. Take another deep breath. Send a message about balance... Thank you again! #SpiritChat 

Storify Summary: https://storify.com/ajmanik/on-breath-and-balance