Breathing is something we are doing every moment we are alive. But breathing does not only keep our body alive; it can keep our spirit alive as well.
Breathing is one of the simplest forms of meditation. By focusing on the sensation of breath, you automatically relax. Your heart rate and breathing rate slow down. With time your breathing becomes deeper without trying. If in the beginning, you are breathing from your chest, with your chest rising and falling, as your chest and abdomen relax, you will begin to breathe from your upper and then lower abdomen.
When you breathe from your lower abdomen, your diaphragm extends more, and you take in more air. Your brain gets more oxygen. Your breaths are longer and slower, keeping you in a restful and peaceful state—one in which the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system is activated.
Abdominal breathing circulates your body’s energy healthfully in a Water Up, Fire Down cycle. Fire energy generated in your heart goes down and gathers in your lower abdomen. Your furnace-like energy center there uses that firepower to shoot the energy up to your kidneys, which cool it down with water energy that travels up to your head and finally down to your heart once more. Water Up, Fire Down is the ideal state of your body and mind.
In this state, your perception and awareness change. Your consciousness is immersed in the present moment. Because your brain waves are slower in this relaxed but awake state, your awareness can sink from the thinking of your conscious mind into the myriad memories, emotions, and ideas swimming around in your unconscious mind. With increased awareness of your unconscious mind, you can see and release with each breath, the energy of whatever has been stored there. The mental baggage of your unconscious mind is usually put away without your conscious permission. However, by making yourself aware of what’s there through breathing, you can clear it out or make it work for your goals.
Deeper than your unconscious mind, however, at the very bottom of your consciousness, you can meet the greater knowledge and energy of the source of life.
At this level, you can see all things; clearly, you can integrate the knowledge you’ve acquired and truly make it your own, and you can create change with a heart alive with passion.