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Breathing Just Breathing January 24, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“Here we are – again, beginning and also ending. Ending also and beginning, again – are we here? Are we all in?”

– my “faux” palindrome from the 1/20/2021 blog post

Even though I mentioned him in yesterday’s blog, I didn’t mention Ed Roberts during yesterday’s practice. But, I was thinking about him. I was thinking about him and the way he had to breathe after he was paralyzed by the polio virus. Naturally, thinking about him breathing started me thinking about the different ways we breathe and how that impacts our practice – which, in turn, impacts our life and the way we live our lives.

Over the last few years, but especially last after last year, yoga teachers and teachers of other Eastern philosophies and contemplative practices have been joined by more and more people who are focusing on the impact of the power of the breath. Most recently, perhaps, the publication of James Nestor’s Breath has reignited interest in (a) breathing – something we know people have been doing since at least the dawn of man (or since God breathed into clay, depending on your beliefs) and (b) prāņāyāma or breathing exercises – something we know people have been doing for thousands of years. I have not read Breath, but I have been slightly amused and intrigued by the number of people that have called, texted, or emailed me in the last few months because of this book.

The conundrum, or riddle, to me, is that the people who reached out to me about the book are people who already had some experience with prāņāyāma. But, Mr. Nestor is not a teacher, by trade or by training. He is a journalist, who is about the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of things. His first book, DEEP: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves, exposed him to different breathing methods and also had him metaphorically exploring a space (the ocean) that teachers like me constantly use as a metaphor for breathing. His initial focus in writing his book on breathing was on presenting the facts, not cultivating the experience. (I say “initial focus,” because he is now very definitely engaged in the “cultivating the experience” of the practice – even if that change in focus is being driven by the desire to sell the books.) By presenting the facts and, also, cultivating the experience, he is proving to people that the practice works – and that draws more people in and more people deeper.

While I often provide “proof,” I am more about cultivating the experience – and so today, like every day, we breathe. As today, 1242021, is another palindrome day, we’re going to start off with a breath pattern that is the same coming in as going out. It is not technically and traditionally “box breathing”… so we can call it “palindrome prāņāyāma” – and we’ll use it to go deep.

“In a world of seven billion people, where every inch of land has been mapped, much of it developed, and too much of it destroyed, the sea remains the final unseen, untouched, and undiscovered wilderness, the planet’s last great frontier. There are no mobile phones down there, no e-mails, no tweeting, no twerking, no car keys to lose, no terrorist threats, no birthdays to forget, no penalties for late credit card payments, and no dog shit to step in before a job interview. All the stress, noise, and distractions of life are left at the surface. The ocean is the last truly quiet place on Earth.”

– quoted from DEEP: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves by James Nestor

Today’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “10272020 Pranayama II”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

You can request an audio recording of Sunday’s practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

### Breathe In, Breath Out ###

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