Michael Reddy, Ph.D, CPC
           Healer  Trainer  Author   610 469 7588

Saturday June 24, 2017
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Health and the Magic of Breath

In almost all languages and cultures, there's this connection between breath and something spiritual or magical. Our word "spirit" comes from the Latin verb "respirare."

bird in flightWhen we die, we "expire," or "breath something out," finally and completely. Great insights are "breathings in," as in "inspiration." Yoga philosophy talks of "Prana," Chinese medicine of "Chi." The air we breath is, after all, everywhere—invisible, moving, fluid, above all, and necessary.

Native medicine people use feathers as healing tools because they are especially adapted to create flow in this invisible medium. They can move that which is spiritual.

Breath Deeply Affects our Daily Lives

So what's this got to do with our health and well being in the rapidly changing energy climate breathe lungsof today's Mother Earth? Actually, quite a lot.

First of all, tied to sitting, looking at screens, driving, living in enclosed spaces filled with still, sometimes stale air—we don't breath enough. Most blood is pooled in the bottom third of our spongy lungs.

But shallow chest breathing, which does not lower the diaphragm, keeps most of the fresh air away from most of the blood. Not the best. Stress and failure to stretch muscles of the torso further constrict the vital flow of oxygen to all parts of the body.

Sad Results of Shallow Breathing

So what happens? Well, several unhappy things, but let's just focus on one.

Low movement, low oxygen, and long term stress imprint the muscles and sheaths of fascia that organize them. Muscles weaken and shorten. Instead of staying lubricated and slippery, the fascia gum up and glue together.

vicious circleNow the postures and physical feelings of stress, anxiety, or more serious trauma are being echoed constantly back to the brain by the body itself.

This nudges us into feeling stressed, even when there are no outside threats or pressures, and we would otherwise feel great. The brain, trying to make sense of these now habitual physical sensations, starts looking around apprehensively.

Well—there must be some threat somewhere out there to explain this feeling. And, often enough, it will magnify the risk of something rather neutral or even supportive to account for them.  It's a vicious circle.

But There's Lots of Good News Too

Bad news, right? Well there's a very bright side to this as well. woman breathingBreath is magic. If you don't use it, troubling things happen. But if you do (and you can, easily)—then awesomely good things happen.



Connecting Breath to Energy

Let's remember that connection between breath and subtle energy. Think of Prana or Chi as the force of light and love that powers all creation. Breath is your personal connection to it. Both the wisdom traditions and parapsychology research say that this energy is imprinted by your breathing meditationfocused intention.

The startling fact is that this means you can literally breathe things like wellness, happiness, mood changes, or release of pain into any part of your body. Simply breathing more deeply can be that good for you.

The full yogic breath is the perfect example. You fill you're the bottom of your lungs first by expanding your belly, then your chest moves out, and finally your shoulders rise slightly. If you really expel every last bit of air from your lungs first, the effect is stronger.

Breath in What You Need

A simple way to imprint the subtle energy represented by your breath is to label or visualize it as something you need, or want to direct to some part of yourself. So, you can breath "relaxing" into tense shoulders by focusing on them and imagining the Prana swirling into them as a kind of comfortable letting go.

Personally, I had a knee problem last year, and breathed little sparkles of light into it regularly, especially doing partial squats. Sometimes I imagined the air traveling through my body to the knee, while other times I just saw the sparkles emerging right there. Either way is fine.

Stretching and Breathing Go Together

This brings us back to all that sitting. If you get up once every hour or two, do some very simple stretches and breath health and happiness into whatever part of you is stretching—I'm not kidding you can measurably improve your wellness. Clients I have who actually do this all agree. stretches

Forward, backward, and side-to-side bends, shoulder rolls, spinal twists (which you can even do in the chair)—just what you can do in 4-5 minutes. The key is relaxing into the stretch just to the point where the muscles would start to fight you during 3 deep breaths, visualizing a magical fluid or sparkles of light collecting at the points of stretch.

Yes we are sitting more and tied to screens more. But we are also moving into a time when the presence and power of subtle energies are also growing. Deep, conscious breathing is the simplest way to harness these.

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