Inhale Love, Exhale Peace
By Gina Brierley, Yoga Teacher and Blogger at The Tiger Boe Centre
To breathe is to live. To breathe in, is to ‘inspire’. The root meaning of the word ‘inspire’ literally means to excite, encourage and breathe ‘new life’ into something. Those who were said to have inspired originally were the divine beings, imparting truth and wisdom into human consciousness. Since then, the term ‘to inspire’ has been associated with creativity and learning. Inspired people feel a responsibility to delve into their chosen realm and breathe a new energy into it. These people are usually positive, without limitation and focused on achieving their goals. They have life force energy running through them and their inspiration usually inspires others to feel the same.
That refreshing feeling when you take a deep breath, or inspire, is a similar feeling to when your mind gives birth to a new idea or concept. We live for the download, whether it’s the oxygen we breathe or the new information we take in. Human beings are fascinated with the new and with the unknown.
Fascination ignites feelings of joy and passion, which are positive emotions, but it can also create a sense of fear. Fear is seen as a negative emotion, yet it is intrinsically linked to survival. When fear is present, the breath can become erratic, or it can slow down to a stop. Have you ever been so scared that you almost stop breathing? Maybe you remember playing hide and seek as a child and holding your breath when the seeker’s steps came scarily close to your hiding spot? In times of fear, reconnecting back to the breath can bring you back to the moment, back home to yourself.
When we breathe deeply and tune into the present moment, we can take our awareness up into the clouds, out into space. The phrase to be ‘spaced out’ means to be out of touch with ‘reality’, and our reality as we know it, is here on earth. Lengthening your inhalations and exhalations and focusing your attention on your breath directly connects you back to your source, which is literally the air that we breathe. When deep in meditation your mind melts away, and your consciousness can soar on the wind, to unknown territories.
When you feel fearful, stressed or frustrated there is a good chance that you are not breathing in a natural way. Your posture may be contributing to the lack of depth in your breath, but often its our psychological state that leads us to hold our breath or restrict its flow. Holding your breath whilst angry or upset is a natural reaction but over time, if these emotions and situations reoccur, this stunted breathing can form a pattern and inhibit the free flow of your breath at times when you are not feeling upset. When we enter this breath pattern, our attention is all up in our heads. With your focus in your head, you ignore the subtle signals of the body and encourage thoughts to flow. You almost cut yourself off from the rest of your body, ignoring the warning signs such as your heart rate increasing and your chest tightening.
When our oxygen flow is repressed, our thoughts can become erratic, irrational and negative. When we relax our minds, then our attention can be drawn downwards into our hearts and into our stomachs, to our centre. This allows the diaphragm to expand naturally, in an unrestricted manner. The core is known in Chinese Medicine as the Dan Tian, which literally translates as ‘energy field.’ Once we arrive back at our core, at our centre, we can begin to enjoy the ride once again!
Our bodies and our minds are made of the same thing. They are both responsible for and reacting to the external environment, simultaneously. When we experience life, there are two layers at work. One is your feeling body, your core, your nature. The other is your surface psychology, imprinted on top of it all. Your body is rewiring itself at this very moment and you can begin to change the relationship you have with yourself, and the world around you, for the better starting with the way you breathe.
When you are relaxed, your inhales will give you a lift, and your exhales will make you more movable. When you are flexible mentally you are more able to let things go and move through life without restriction. When you inhale, and feel inspired, you are present in the moment and connected to your truest nature. When you are inflexible with your breath, you are inflexible and closed within your life and you create chaos in your body and mind.
Sometimes, when we have been living in chaos, we can become addicted to the out breath. As inviting and inspiring as the inhale is, there will be times where you may become naturally more inclined towards the exhale. But why does this happen? When we breathe out, we release. We release by-products via our respiratory system and we release stagnant energy held within us.
When you hear someone sigh, it usually signals a feeling of relief or release. This feeling of having survived, for now, is very soothing and a natural pleasure amongst humans, but it only reflects good health when our desire to feel safe is in balance with our desire to explore the unknown.
When we are playing it too safe, we can become addicted to the out breath.