Tuesday, November 26, 2013

take a breath

Verse 4.29: Still others, who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, practice by offering the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and the incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Others, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice.

Extensive personal experience has revealed to me that taking deep, calming breaths can be the best thing to do when faced with any type of trying situation. Whether it be a heated argument, feeling out of place, becoming internally frustrated or even trying to curtail one's speech, it's amazing what breathing can do.

On a practical level, it calms one down. Now, it may not happen immediately, especially if one's emotions and feelings are quickly simmering, but by taking the time out to breathe, especially long and controlled breaths, the focus moves from the situation we face to the act of inhaling and exhaling.

In fact, my observation is that challenging situations result in me taking very short and shallow breaths. By consciously taking long and deep ones, the added benefits are numerous. More oxygen enters the body, one's attention is diverted to something else, and it just forces us to take some much needed time out.

That's why pranayama (control of the breathing process) is part of the yoga practice. Just as practicing different asanas (physical postures) help one to keep the body in healthy, working order, the breath has a huge effect not only on our body but on the mind as well.

This is one of the main reasons why I personally love the Gita so much. Not only is it practical but it answers a wide range of questions. From giving advice on how we can react positively to provoking situations to how we can find true happiness (and everything in between!), there's an answer to everything.

So the next time you feel yourself starting to lose it, take a breath. Taking that time out even for a few seconds or minutes could potentially give you a whole new perspective on the situation.

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