Recently I have been playing with the breath along the left and right channels of my body. These aren’t necessarily physical phenomena, I do feel them – But it’s a story within my mind, to reconcile the old structures as new ones are laid down throughout practice.
I’ll put it bluntly, I don’t know whether these things I’m experiencing are because they are innate and I am merely uncovering them – Or whether they are the result of both learning about them intellectually and applying them with dedicated practice.
This is no small question, it is the greatest question.
Is human potential trapped in a piece of marble, awaiting to be uncovered? Suggesting a finite predetermined limit.
Is human potential unbounded, and with sufficient energy applied can it reach beyond the imagination?
I suspect it’s both but I really don’t know anything beyond what I experience.
This breath stuff is really interesting, I’m beginning to really understand the obvious delineation in the centre line of my body. This isn’t the only partition though, there are many. With enough muscle memory under my belt I feel I can place the breath anywhere in my body, there are nooks and crannies still left unexplored or blocked but for the most part it’s moving freely.
I’d like to try and describe a subtle shift in mass that I’ve been using in conjunction with alternate nostril breathing. It involves sitting in seiza. Instead of physically blocking the nostrils with one hand, I use my internal focus to shift the breath into and out of the left/right sides of my body. I can feel my respective lungs expanding deeper than the unfocused side. A side effect I have begun to notice is a shift in weight from one leg to the other as I alternate. I used to think this was a nuisance and spent a lot of energy trying to prevent any movement of the sort.
But I noticed that when I fell into the motion, literally to the edge of balance – the depth and quality of my breath exponentially increased.
To describe the mechanics of it would be similar to drawing the breath in and up the leg whose currently bearing the greater body weight and passing that weight across the sternum and neck area to the other side, dropping it into the leg on the outbreath. Only to draw it back in for the next round.
This subtlest of additions to an already potent practice opens up the space at the top and bottom of the breath, lengthening the little deaths of each cycle.
I remember the first time I committed a full 5 rounds to this method when I stopped I don’t think I breathed for at least a full minute. Now this is not concious breath cessation, the likes of free diving. This is cessation of breath and cessation of breath control. My body fell into an unconscious and unaware state of not breathing . Which was quite blissful.
The key is switching off all concious control, leaving it down to the smallest left/right motion at the top of the breath, it involves trusting the breath to know exactly how much to draw in and expel. Like tradition alternate nostril breathing the only control you exert to the practice is the gentle blocking and unblocking of the nostrils.
This allows the natural rhythms of the body to begin unfolding and hopefully you can find yourself in a breath void of bliss too.