Meditation Breathing Exercises

In the area of breathing we hear much less of such feats of endurance: a Yogi was buried alive for 40 days and survived. A record diver swam a stretch of 90 metres without having to take a breath of air. In contrast to the fishes that extract their oxygen from the water through their gills, we are subject to death through asphyxiation when we are not able to take a breath of air under water at the right time.

We respond sensitively to lack of oxygen: we become tired, disinclined and ill. Gliders, mountain climbers and divers that want to reach higher or lower regions depend on the supply of oxygen through oxygen bottles or similar devices. Those living in a poisoned atmosphere will suffer from shortness of breath and are under threat of asphyxiation. During the second world war gas masks were used to defend against harmful toxic substances in the air, today in the large cities there are smog-alarms to warn the population in good time against poisoning. In contrast to this there is a refreshing atmosphere in the forest or mountains and we can breathe freely there.

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Plants, which in contrast to humans absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, thereby supplement us in an ideal way. For this reason it is so important to live in a kind of symbiosis with plants and to cultivate or maintain green belts or parks in large cities to improve the air quality through green lungs.

Not only the oxygen impoverished air, but also the atmosphere in the figurative sense can have the effect that we gasp for breath and we run out of air, as the physical process of breathing is connected with our emotional and subjective spiritual-mental life.

Those who breathe quietly and persevere, or can let off steam at the right moment are undoubtedly in a better position and condition than those who hastily and irregularly struggle for breath and composure and thereby experience blocking of the breath. Already 80 years ago the German psychologist Ernst Kretschmer (1888-1964) wrote that respiration is more than just an exchange of gases. Correct breathing also helps create and develop emotional balance, improves the blood circulation to our brain cells and helps to expand our consciousness, is the wisdom of ancient breathing cultures.

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