Mind follows breath
“There is no doubt that breath control is the means for mind control because the mind, like breath, is a part of air; because the nature of mobility is common to both; because the place of origin is the same for both; and because when one of them is controlled, the other gets controlled.” (Ramana Maharshi)
When we experience shock or intense fear, we hold our breath.
When we feel anxious, stressed or depressed our breath is very shallow.
It is not healthy for our physiology. And we can become locked in this state.
To shift from these states we need to focus on our breathing. Allow the breath to be in control.
The power of breath
One of my most memorable experiences of the power of breath comes from a time when I worked on cruise ships. All staff and passengers were assigned muster stations in case of emergency, and we were doing a drill. One of the passengers in my station began having an anxiety attack, and he didn’t have his medication with him.
I drew him aside and had him sit down. Then I took his hands, had him look into my eyes and follow my instructions on breathing. We counted a slow and even deep inhale and exhale. Within seconds he began to calm down, and after a few minutes he felt relaxed. I think I was as relieved as he was that it worked.
Drawing in deep breath, using the full capacity of our lungs, is the starting point. There are numerous breathing techniques (pranayama) that we can use to more specifically influence our mind. I teach some of these in my courses and classes.
Pause where you are now. What is the quality of your breath? And what is the state of your mind?
As always, I’d love to hear your experiences and observations of the mind-breath relationship.