Breathing is something we take for granted, just as we take for granted the beating of our heart and the internal workings of the body that digest food and the movement of nutrition and energy through ourselves.
While we are used to the obligations of putting gas in a car, we seemingly ignore the wonder of a biological body that helps us move and create, it supports our brain and our ability to procreate, the highest, and most complex of biological actions. That the body can do so much without consuming anything from our thinking self is nothing short of miraculous.
Next to water and food, breathing is as essential as the beating of our hearts and it is elevated to the autonomic system, that most essential of all internal processes.
Breathing is also something that connects us to our higher self. Breathing, how we do it and how we become in tune with it is evident during Reiki sessions and yoga. Managing and being sensitive to what to what our body is doing is intriguing.
Breath is at that point where ephemeral air is brought into our body, and an equally transient substance is expelled. Until recently it was not understood how and what the body was doing when it breathed in and out.
Now we understand that the lungs are the point where the inhaled air is separated into oxygen the body needs to exist and is passed into the blood. The lungs fill with the burnt and exhausted gasses from our blood, it then exhales these as we breathe out.
Because we feel pressure on our diaphragm, that muscle that pumps the longs like they were a set of bellows, and we feel our chest expand and contract, monitoring our breathing during meditation or a Reiki session became something we can work with and study.
Meditation is an exercise that helps us understand and practice mindfulness and being in the present and not where the busy mind wants to take us. The most common tool in meditation and mindfulness is concentration on breathing. It is the simple tool that comes with our physical human state. Breathing in and out is a basic autonomic function, it happens regardless and does not require any attention to preform it. It has a physical affect we can experience, the rising and falling of our chest cavity or, if we are wearing tight clothing, the expansion of our chest against the clothing and the feeling of constraint and resistance.
Concentrating on your breathing is a way of directing your mind away from the seemingly never-ending churning of the ego and the ever-thinking mind.
I set aside five or ten minutes several times a day to do this, especially at the start of the day, just before I get dressed to go out. When I arrive home, and at lunch time. These times are also my quiet times when I just shut out the world. I sit in a straight back chair and close my eyes and concentrate.
Another good time to concentrate on breathing is just after getting into bed and before falling asleep. But, if you fall asleep, that is great! Allow it to happen! You will get a much more restful sleep and you will exclude all the worries and feelings that often prevent you from falling sleep easily.
I use a sleep tracking app on my iPhone, when I have been deeply concentrating on breathing and fall asleep as a result, the app always tells me my sleep has been of very high quality.
In the morning and when I come home, I eliminate visual distractions by closing my eyes. But I have also learned that I can achieve the same state of mindfulness and mental awareness by being fully aware and observant of what is going on around me, but I do not engage with it. I am not judgmental of what I see. In order to make a judgement, you have to be able to form an opinion on what you are seeing and have a set of rules to apply to what is in front of you. That engages the logical mind, which is not what you want.
For a while I had the pleasure of eating lunch in a small coffee shop in a large mall. The atrium faced south so it was always bright and sunny. The space in front of the coffee shop was always a hive of activity. But while I observed, I did not engage, it was as if the people moving in front of me, we characters in a play, they made their entrance, played their part, and then exited from the stage. I did not engage with them or the scene. This was my way of practicing how I regard external events, and how I practice my understanding of the interplay between Internal and External events, a most relaxing way to have lunch!
Once we are aware of it, and have practiced observing our breathing, we can graduate to being able to better control of breathing. Breath in through one nostril and out through the other. This takes practice, but like any skill, what we practice becomes natural to us and easier until we do it without thinking.
Mindfulness teaches us a skill. It gives s the skill of paying attention to the NOW by noticing when your mind wanders off. We can better listen, feel and understand your breathing, breath by breath. Breathing is part of our body, an essential part, it is automimic and happens without us thinking about it. It’s a place where we can rest and settle our minds.
Sit quietly as if in mediation… As you listen and understand your breathing, let the Reiki symbols you are attuned to float through your mind and remove any confusing, ego-based thoughts. As air flows into your body, allow the symbols you see in your mind to enter your body with the air. Feel the reiki energy in your Chakras, feel it in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
Let the Reiki symbols cleanse and feed your body as does the movement of air. Let them pass out of your body with the exhaled air, taking with them the thoughts and feelings that no longer serve you. Let the symbols take the feelings and emotions that have blocked you from moving forward in your life.
In this way, breathing, something essential for your life, together with your knowledge of Reiki are combined and working to heal and strengthen you. With practice, this will become natural and easy to combine the autonomic function with Reiki.
Go, breathe deeply and let Reiki flow with your breathing.
This post is taken from our Reiki Level II Student Manual
Mark is a Registered Reiki Teacher and Practitioner under the Canadian Reiki Association – CRA.
Mark is a Usui Tibetan Reiki Master Teacher under the International Association fo Reiki Professionals Click here for more information