Why I breathe
The relationship between prana and citta (life force and mind)
by : Charlotte Skogsberg
Without prana, the body is life less. Without prana, the mind is closed in habitual patterns. Practicing yoga asana will transform the physical sheet of your being. Practicing pranayama will transform the pranic body. Your energy, your life force. The more we repeat an action, a thought, an emotional state, the quicker it becomes for the brain to trigger that exact neuro pathway in the brain. So the conditioning goes deeper the more we do it over again.
Learn to control your breathing and you will control the ways of your thoughts. As we are agitated for whatever reason, our mind is running amok and our behaviour acts accordingly. The breath is then uneven and shallow. When we calm down, so does the breath. A well balanced and controlled mental and emotional life is key to a steady and positive all over health.
I sit down
The rush of the day in my body
I just can’t seem to make space for myself. To just be.
There are too many distractions.
Then I start to breathe. My attention is focused on the air going in and out.
The body relaxes, it’s as if an electric current is going through me, a pleasurable sensation coming from my centre and spreading in my legs and arms. Everything slows down and clears up. As if the code to decipher a secret language had been given and our own actions, as well as others were explained. This is why Pranayama is a tool to decondition our very wired mentality.
Think about that for a minute. So the roles we keep playing, the story telling that never ends, the patterns we get stuck in. All could be unraveled as we sit down and breathe. It is laid in front of us, cards on the table, saying “this is it, what do you choose to make of it?”. We lay down our weapons, we turn our gaze towards the world but we see through it. The feeling is similar to a deep state of relaxation or contentment. It’s completion. Because we do not fear or identify ourselves with what we are observing, we can actually touch a state of maturity. That is the feeling we call “clarity”. It is what we really seek with the use of external substances. Whenever we look at something difficult, something painful or complicated from a state of deep contentment, we see it clearly because it doesn’t affect our state. Taking substances brings us chemically into a pleasurable condition which is why we find it easier to deal with reality from that point of view. The downside to chemicals is that they then wear off and after having been lifted so high, the fall usually crushes us because it was an artificial contentment.
This is why being spiritual is being joyful. The state of contentment that we arrive to through our practice gives us the possibility to address anything without the fear of losing our balance, our comfort, our joy. It is truly the meaning of “you can only give from a full cup”.
The deeper into this we go, the further down the rabbit hole of our own existence we reach. The reason we practice pranayama after asana is because we go from gross to subtle. We work through the physical blockages to release the mental and then deep into the subtle energies of our being. Finding the core beliefs behind our perception. Finding the real reasons we do what we do, not the excuses we use to justify.
We access the subconscious mind, the repressed, the shadow of our persona. We can only let the shadow come into the light when it feels safe for it to make an appearance. The whole reason it was back there in the darkness is because we shamed it into staying there. So it takes a whole lot of reassurance from ourselves for the shadow to trust us enough again. The idea of Self Love comes in here. If loving someone means taking them for what they are, taking ALL of them, then denying our shadow is the opposite.
No wonder yoga is the path of Self-realization. This is why it continues to amaze me. The layers, the insights, the unraveling of who you are. The deeper you go, the more you find. The more you find, the more you understand and the more you understand, the clearer you can see.