The Mind~Breath~Energy Triad
Meditation and Healing
The ancient Yoga Rishis (Seers) in India discovered that the mind, breath, and energy are all inextricably linked together and that when you affect one you affect the other two. Of these three, breathing is the most tangible and easiest to control. Therefore, voluntary controlled breathing can help us control our thoughts and emotions and the strength and flow of our personal energy.
The quality of one’s breath and energy mirrors one’s state of mind. When you feel excited or stressed or threatened in some way, your breathing responds accordingly using short, rapid, sustained, or agitated breaths. An example to which any parent can relate is when a toddler is having a temper tantrum meltdown. The child can get so emotionally worked up he or she struggles to regain normal breathing. The eventual incoming breath is choppy, uneven and rapid. On the other hand, experiencing the feelings of peace, relaxation, and happiness causes the breath to relax, slow down and deepen. Imagine yourself relaxing under some palm trees on an island beach listening to the rolling surf and watching a beautiful sunset. You take in a deep breath and exhale a sigh of relaxation, feeling happy and peaceful. Just as your breath mirrors your state of mind, likewise, the flow of life-force energy and therefore the quality of your entire aura, or electromagnetic field, mirrors your emotional state.
“The Mind is everything. What you think, you become.” ~Buddha
According to the universal Law of Attraction and the Law of Cause and Effect, your thoughts, along with the strength of willpower behind them, will produce a like response. Negative thinking will manifest negative responses, and likewise, positive thinking will manifest positive responses. You are the sum total of all your thoughts–your physical health plus your habitual thinking patterns, which form your character and determines the trajectory of your destiny.
Change your thinking, and your life will change accordingly—even healing the body and mind of “dis-ease.” All illness is psychosomatic: psyche (mind) and somatic (body). Your body obeys your mind in that your electrical network (Central Nervous System) and subsequently your chemical network (Endocrine System) engage according to how you think and emotionally react to stimuli by triggering either the Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight response) or Parasympathetic Nervous System (relaxation response) and the secretion of corresponding hormones and neurotransmitter chemicals. This affects your overall state of health and wellbeing both physically and mentally.
“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is really energy, whose vibration has been lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter. There is only light and sound.” ~Albert Einstein
According to The Laws of Thermodynamics, the amount of energy in the universe is constant, it cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be converted from one form to another. For thousands of years, the Yogis of India have explained that the Universe is made up entirely of energy vibrating at various frequencies. These different frequencies give us diverse forms of creation. The yogis also stated that there is an underlying Intelligence, or Consciousness, existing throughout this universal energy.
This intelligent/conscious life-force energy, called Prana in Sanskrit and Qi in Chinese medicine, is the connecting link in the mind/body continuum and it flows into us with every incoming breath. No physical and mental actions can happen without the presence and flow of prana. According to Yoga, it enters the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain through the physical act of breathing. (During artificial life-support, the patient will continue to show brainwave activity as long as life-force energy continues to enter the body. However, once this prana ceases to flow inward, brain wave activity ends and death occurs even though the heart and lungs continue to function.)
Every thought—positive or negative—carries with it its corresponding energetic, or pranic, quality. Energy accompanies thought and the strength of that energy is proportionate to the willpower behind the thought. Paramahansa Yogananda said, “The stronger the will, the stronger the flow of energy.” So, in order to consciously enact some change in our life requires a strong flow of energy directed by a powerful concentrated non-egoic will. This is especially relevant to healing oneself and others, and being able to go deeply into meditation. Energy healers such as Reiki practitioners are conduits/facilitators for increased life-force energy, which raises the vibratory frequency of the receiver’s energy field, thus promoting a state of self-healing.
Breath and the Triad
The Yoga Rishis understood that of the three parts of the triad, breath is the most tangible and therefore the easiest to control and thereby have command over the mind and flow of energy.
We have seen that one’s state of mind affects breathing rhythms and energy quality. Also, we find as a result of energy healing sessions, the mind and breath of both the giver and receiver become centered and calm. As a result, the vibratory frequency of the receiver’s electromagnetic field is effectively increased.
Meditation requires mind control. The Bhagavad Gita, known throughout India, is a story in the form of an allegorical dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna. Krishna responds to Arjuna’s queries about the fundamental questions of life and of Self-Realization—spiritual enlightenment—and the necessary requirement of mind control in meditation. In pursuit of a meditative state Arjuna says in the Gita, “Verily, the mind is unsteady, tumultuous, powerful, obstinate. O Krishna, I consider the mind as difficult to master as the wind.” Anyone who has ever tried to meditate will undoubtedly concur with Prince Arjuna!
The necessary precursor for entering a true state of meditation (Dhyana), is one-pointed concentration (Dharana). Meditation or what is often referred to today as Mindfulness is taught by paying attention to one’s incoming and outgoing breath. This is always the principal technique for helping the meditator to concentrate, and thereby control the myriad of thought waves going in and out of the mind.
Breathing is both involuntary and voluntary. There are many different voluntary breathing techniques called Pranayama, which oxygenate and decarbonize the blood—thus slowing down the rate of breathing and the overall cardiopulmonary rhythms. These techniques calm the nervous system while enabling the meditator to more easily keep his/her mind focused on the subject of concentration, which then flows into a meditative state. And of course, energy accompanies thought—and the stronger the will, the stronger the flow of energy.
Control of the breath is central to controlling your mind and to the practice of meditation. If the breath is agitated, so is the mind. In meditation, the mind through willpower must remain calmly active and actively calm. When the breath is calm, the mind can be controlled.
Conscious breathing is the way to a balanced and healthy life and for progress on one’s meditation endeavors and spiritual journey.
(See my blog posting, The Science of the Breath and the Mind, for more insights into the effects of controlled breathing on the Autonomic Nervous System and for maintaining a more stress-free life.)