Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

Energy Breathing

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A sea of precious spiritual energies surrounds us. The air, for example, contains such energies, a fact attested to by most major spiritual traditions. The Hindu notion of prana, which means breath in Sanskrit, refers to the energies carried by the air. The Hindu word for soul, atman, also means breath in Sanskrit. The Latin spiritus means both breath and soul, and forms the root of related English words like spirituality, respire, inspire, and expire. Numerous other languages and traditions similarly affirm the close relationship between the air and soul energies, the air acting as a reservoir of energies: Arabic ruh, Hebrew nefesh, ruakh, neshamah, Greek pneuma, Chinese Taoist ch’i, the Christian Prayer of the Heart, Gregorian chant, the Sufi zikr, and the Yoga of pranayama. In ordinary, automatic breathing, however, only a tiny amount of these spiritual energies remain with us after we exhale.

Intentional energy breathing enables more of the energy to be drawn into us from the air and to stay with us, fueling our spiritual practice and strengthening our soul. In contrast with the practice of conscious breathing, in energy breathing we direct our attention to the energies in the air we breathe, rather than simply to the physical sensations associated with breathing. We intentionally draw the energy from the air into us, infusing our body with that energy. We can cast our attention as a “net” to capture the energy and carry it into us as we inhale. Alternatively, we can use attention as a “filter” placed in the nostrils to release the energy as the air enters the nose. The energy that we can breathe forms an inner atmosphere, the air of our inner world. We reach out, with our attention and intention, into this inner atmosphere and draw the energy into us with an inner breath, the inner side of our ordinary breath. As we exhale we hold our attention in our body, allowing the energy from the breath to find its own place.

This practice does not require any significant alteration to our breath, and should not make us dizzy, nor cause us to breathe at an abnormally fast or slow speed. The difference between normal breathing and energy breathing does not lie on the physical level, but rather on the level of the energy body. We breathe at a normal pace and depth. But with fine attention to the air where it enters our nose, we consciously bring the energy into our body.

As we work on becoming aware of and breathing this energy, we discover an unmistakable and wonderful flow of energy in our breath, strengthening our energy body. But this energy flow is never automatic; it requires intention and attention to separate the energy from the ordinary air. Spending time every day on this energy breathing practice proves invaluable in filling us with sensation and establishing our energy body, giving us a sturdy vessel for presence and for deepening our path.

At first your perceptions may not be refined enough to experience the energy in the air. In this case, use your imagination and practice as if shimmering particles of energy were entering you as you breathe. Allow the energy to spread throughout your body, joining the sensitive energy and strengthening your sensation. Work at this as part of your sitting meditation. If, after practicing energy breathing for some period each day for a week or two, you still find the energy flow elusive, please drop the exercise and consider returning to it again at another time. But bear in mind the many spiritual traditions affirming the presence of soul-related energies in the air. If this is possible for other people, it is also possible for you. As your other spiritual practices and perceptions deepen, your ability to contact and absorb the energies in the air will grow apace. Then this vast reservoir of energies will begin to strengthen your inner life and make it more real.

See Also Casting an Energy Net , Breathing Energy and Sensation Body


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