Are you filling up your lungs correctly to perform at your best? Image source:morguefile.com
This is Part 3 of my article: Just Breathe. In Part 1 we looked at the importance of the breath and why focusing on it can make us less stressed. In Part 2 we looked at the different breathing techniques that can improve our mental and physical health.
In Part 3 I will explore some of the masters of breathing. Who they are, teachings to follow up on and google later and even apps you can use to explore which breathing technique would benefit you.
Have you ever thought about the fact that breathing exercises are often the most important factor in yoga, relaxation, mindfulness and meditation practices? The breathe is also important for athletes, helping them to run faster, run further, jump higher, play longer, hold their breath for long periods underwater and to increase their focus and energy.
What about entertainers? Actors, singers, dances, acrobats they are all using breathing techniques to increase their lung capacity and in turn their performance. Remember all those music lessons at school? Apart from the recorder another thing I learnt from those classes was that our posture and the way we breathe directly affects our ability to sing without running out of breathe and to hit those really high notes. See even your favourite musicians use the power of the breath.
Some famous breathing artists that stand out for me are:
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Thich Nhat Hanh
You don't even need to spend any money to learn from these masters of the 'breath'. There is millions of websites, apps and YouTube videos you can view in your own time, at your own leisure.
I will start off with His Holiness the Dalai Lama IV, Tibet's current spiritual leader, Buddhist Monk and Nobel peace Prize Winner. He is the most recognised Human Rights crusader of our time. His teachings cover compassion, world peace and his passion has been made famous worldwide.
'As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.'― Dalai Lama XIV
'When we focus our attention on the passage of breath, we break the usually continuous flow of thoughts of attachment, hostility and so forth, whatever they might be. This causes such thoughts to subside for the moment. Thus, by occupying the mind with our breath, we cleanse it of all positive and negative conceptual thoughts and thus remain in a neutral state of mind unspecified as either constructive or destructive.'― Dalai Lama XIV
Ekhart Tolle author of the worldwide sensation, 'The Power of Now' and spiritual teacher and public speaker has made it his life mission to 'enlighten' people to live each moment in peace and understanding. After suffering from depression for a long time he experienced a transformation developing his sense of meaning and life purpose that he now specialises in sharing with others. He even did a series of workshops with famous TV personality, Oprah Winfrey.
'Conscious breathing, which is a powerful meditation in its own right, will gradually put you in touch with the body…As soon as your habitual state changes from being out of the body and trapped in your mind, to being in the body and present in the Now, your physical body will feel lighter, clearer, more alive.' - Ekhart Tolle
'Be aware of your breathing. Notice how this takes attention away from your thinking and creates space.' - Ekhart Tolle
Deepak Choppa, is an Alternative Medical Practitioner, Author of over 50 books and a real new age guru. He is sometimes controversial with his teaching yet, he is famous world figure. Although some of his teachings are a bit far out there is no denying that he is a breathing technique expert.
'Many people find that the best way to connect with this source of inner strength is by taking three or four full breaths deep into your abdomen. As you do this hold in your mind that with every inhalation you are bringing a calming, clarifying wisdom to your true self, and with every exhalation you are completely letting go of any tension, frustration, or fear inside.' - Deepak Chopa
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Zen Monk, author of over 100 books, poet and is one of the most recognised human Activists in the world. He has many teachings and famous quotes in regards to the breath.
'Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.'- Thích Nhất Hạnh
'Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a water snake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds. Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used.'- Thích Nhất Hạnh
Dr Jon Kabat -Zinn is a Medical Professor, a scientist, Author and Meditation teacher. He is the founding Director of the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine. He trains CEO's, members of congress, Judges, the clergy and even Olympic Athletes.
'Can you reconnect with featuring the breath centre stage in the field of awareness?'- Jon Kabat-Zinn
'Each in breath a new beginning, each out breath a complete letting go.' - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Where can I access their teachings:
Each of these breathing experts have websites, books, videos and audios that can be found online. Type in their names in YouTube and see what you can find. Don't forget to also search for podcasts of these specialists, they can often be a great resource. I have one of Eckhart Tolle and it is very good. I find Jon Kabat- Zinn's voice very soothing.
There is of course many apps, even many free ones that focus on breathing. I have trialled some and I have found the 'Breathe2relax' app to be one of my favourites.
The audio and instructions are good and easy to understand. The lite version is free and is still fine to use everyday. The difference with this breathing app is that as well as providing visual instructions and nice sounds it also provides gorgeous scenery that appears on the screen to provide you with imagery to further develop your feeling of calmness. It's unique and beautiful with rain forests and Islands.
Other Apps you could try:
Breathing Techniques By Hemalayaa
Room to Breathe
Take a break
CentredState- Hypnotic Breathing
Breathe Challenge: this one is really interesting because it is actually a game including challenges. As you complete them you are also learning deep breathing techniques whilst also having fun. Genius.
Try using CDs
I am also a fan of Dr Sarah Edelman an Australian Clinical Psychologist who is regularly featured on ABC radio, is an author and public speaker and has five audio Meditation CDs. Her voice is very soft, calming and soothing. She works on things slowly and often encourages listeners to go at their own pace. Her passion for mindfulness and her down to earth nature really does shine through.
I hope this three part series: Just Breathe has inspired you to explore your breathing and has given you some insight on the importance of the breathe and the power we all have inside us to calm our breathing and slow it down when our emotions are getting the better of us. Try these ideas before your next important meeting, your next interview, during a disagreement or when something goes wrong.
I will leave you with a short YouTube video of Eckart Tolle talking about the breathe, it sums up exactly what I am talking about.
Have you used any other breathing techniques? If so which do you recommend and why?