Breathing & Altered States Of Consciousness

Breath is defined as the air we inhale and exhale during respiration. It is our lifeline. Our bodies can live for days without food and water but without breathing our spirit rapidly leaves the body. Our breath is absolutely necessary to our life but we take it for granted. For centuries, mystics have believed the breath was the seat of the soul and this directly corresponds to the Pineal Gland Activation or the Third Eye Awakening which in essence is the awakening of the soul !

Stanislav Grof, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of altered states of consciousness for purposes of healing, went on to discover that many of these states of mind could be explored without psychedelics and instead by using certain breathing techniques in a supportive environment.

He continues this work today under the title "Holotropic Breathwork".

While all of us are aware of 'breathing' to be essential to our survival, few of us know what it is like to breathe consciously and practice mindfulness (silent observation of our thoughts, one of the first lessons in practicing meditation) ... breathing consciously in a controlled manner opens up new levels of awareness and helps us go beyond our perceived waking physical reality and experience the transpersonal ... the oneness ... which is the unifying essence of creation !

Stanislav Grof is a psychiatrist with almost 50 years of experience in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness. He has been the principal investigator in a psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia, chief of psychiatric research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and scholar-in-residence at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. It was at Esalen that he co-developed, with his wife Christina Grof, Holotropic Breathwork, a technique that includes deep, connected breathing, music, art, and trained facilitation with the goal wholeness, healing, and wisdom.

Breathwork is an integral part of all spiritual disciplines and religions, implicitly or explicitly. Throughout time, particular breathing rhythms have been used to induce diverse altered states of consciousness through singing, devotional chanting, drumming, and dancing - all implicit forms of Breathwork. In Buddhist Vipassana and Zen meditation the breath is observed - an explicit form of Breathwork - and this results in a change of consciousness.

The way we breathe creates and controls our state of consciousness, and our state of consciousness influences the way we breathe. If we are afraid, we breathe faster, when we breathe fast, we feel fear. When we feel calm, our breath is slow and deep, when we slow down and deepen our breathing, we feel calm. In many languages the word for "soul" or "spirit" is the same as that for breath. We are our breath !

References : Conscious Breathing - How Shamanic Breathwork Can Transform Your Life By Joy Manné

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