Length and Rate of your breathing

We are breath, or more more correctly we are linked to this manifested creation primarily by the movement of air through our nostrils. To go beyond the limits imposed by the manifested, the first step is control of the breath. If you control your breath, you naturally control the pran moving within you. If you can control your pran, you automatically control your mind. Your mind is like a ball in your hand, it jumps up and down with the movement of pran. If you still the movement of pran, you also still your mind. The pran’s movement stills when you still your breathing, ie achieve Keval Kumbhak state, where there is no breathing in nor breathing out. If your Mind goes still, you achieve the ‘unmani-state’, beyond-Mind. After you reach this Unmani state, you hear the continuous ‘Nada’, the sound of the unmanifested. If you can dissolve your limited consciousness in the sound of the Nada, you achieve the Eternal.

Length and Rate of your breath

Our regular breathing is very turbulent. It depends on the physical movement of the body but it also depends significantly on your emotions and your thoughts. Check your breathing pattern when you are happy, sad, angry, upset, relaxed, focussed, etc and observe for yourself how it varies.

All texts on breathing and Dhyan will talk about the length of the breath and the rate of breathing.

  • This is how you determine the length of your breathing in comparison to your own finger-widths, a measure called angula. Switch off the fan in your room first, it should not be windy inside. Place some cotton fibres or a very thin thread on the back of your hand and keep it at some distance from your nose. Be at rest, relax and breathe normally. As you exhale on the cotton fibres they will move with the force of the exhaled air. Try to find out till what distance from your nose, the cotton fibres visibly move with your exhaled breath. Measure this distance from your nostrils to the fibres with a piece of thread. Now count how many finger-widths long is your breath when you are at rest.
  • Now to measure your breathing rate. Sit in a relaxed position. Set a timer for 5 mins. Count your breathing, ie one inhale and one exhale is one breath. eg If you count 52 breaths in 5 mins, then it is average at about 10 breaths per minute. eg If it is 68 breaths in 5 mins it is approximately 14 breaths per minute. As per science, the average human breathing rate at rest is 12 per minute.

Your life span is measured in breaths, not years. If you breathe slowly, you will live longer, look younger and be more healthy. But you should not force yourself to stop/slow breathe, if you do so, you will damage your body and your nadi-s. This should happen spontaneously and it will happen gradually as you do your spiritual practice.

(This photograph of my Sat-guru was taken in 1990, he was physically 85yrs old then.)

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If your breathing is fast, forced, laboured, intense etc the air will be displaced for a longer distance from your nose. ie the length of the breath will increase. As per the texts, this is how the activities affect your breath, eg eating increases the length to 18 angula, walking increases it to 20 angula, run­ning to 24 angula, sexual activity to 60 angula etc. If the length of the exhaled breath is longer, it reduces your life-span. The reason is that with every exhaled breath, you are also exhaling pran from your system. Generally you lose more pran than you pull in from the universe as your exhaled breath is always longer than your inhaled breath. And if the exhaled breath is made longer by engaging in strenuous activities or mental turbulence, even more pran goes out. (So over-indulgence in sexual activity is not advisable for spiritual aspirants, 60 angula long-breath!)

When you breathe slowly, without any jerks, the exhaled air moves out with less force, ie it’s length in angula becomes shorter. As the breathing becomes slow, it also becomes less turbulent, the flow of the pran in the nadi-s becomes smoother, more subtle, thinner? It actually becomes a fine needle of pure gold/ silver shimmer. In Dhyan, you are supposed to actively open your central Sushumna and close the Ida and Pingala. When such smooth subtle flow of pran moves through the Sushumna it effectively ‘cleans’ it out. Once the Sushumna is ‘clean’, all karmic impurities/ blockages are removed, it becomes very easy for the kundalini to rise up through it in one continuous smooth flow. It is always better for the spiritual aspirant if the Kundalini moves only after the Sushumna is clean from the Mooladhar to the Brahmarandhra.

So the point is that if you reduce the breathing rate and reduce the length of breath which actually happens simultaneously, you will increase the length and quality of your life and also gain control over your pran, Mind and also on the people around you and the environment you live in. Here is what the texts say,

  • If it is 10 angula, you gain peace of mind which lasts for a long time.
  • If it is 9 angula, you can spontaneously write, prose, music etc which have deep impacts on others.
  • If it is 8 angula, you will be able to speak spontaneously without hesitation. Your words will cause deep impact on those who hear you.
  • If it is 7angula, your vision will change, seeing into the past, present, future, parallel is possible now.
  • If it is 6 angula, you can move your body through air.
  • If it has gone to 5 angula, now onwards, your progress in your spiritual practice becomes very fast.
  • If it goes to 4 angula, you will attain the eight major siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, laghima, prakamya, ishitva, vashitva, kamavashayitva) and the several minor siddhis.
  • If it goes down to 3 angula, you gain the nava nidhi vidya the 9 types of consciousnesses. These are said to be under the control of Yaksharaj Kuber.
  • If it goes upto 2 angu­la, then the body is not longer a binding, you can change the shape of your 5-layered body.
  • If it reduces to 1 angula, you can become invisible and exist in just the subtle or causal body. Time, space and other dimensions lose their dominion on you.
  • Finally when the breathing stops, ie there is no exhalation or inhalation, Keval Kumbhak is attained, now the further process of Self realization starts in real earnest.

So as you do your spiritual practice, with time, your breathing will slow down and stop intermittently and then fully. It is nothing to be scared of. You don’t need air to remain alive in this created world. You need only pran, and it can be pulled in not just through the nostrils but also via the skin and majorly through the top of the head. This ability to consciously pull in pran increases, as you do your spiritual practice. So as an aspirant, your only job is to breathe with Soham, the rest of it will happen spontaneously and naturally.

 

Length and Rate of your breath

Vignyan Bhairav Tantra

There are several commentaries on the Vignyan Bhairav Tantra. So here I will write a bit on what I use and my experience, as it should be. Sanatan Dharm (Hinduism) gives complete importance to the Observer, the One who Experiences. I cannot comment on something that someone else has observed and experienced. The same event is seen differently by different people, who is correct and wrong? No one is correct or wrong, they all Are. Eg, someone dies, each one of his family members will have different experiences, some may feel grief, pain, separation, agony, happiness, even relief, all are justified and Are.

‘Modern age Gurus’ focus on fancy words and complicated explanations, which intend to confuse and keep their disciples tied to them. I want everyone to understand and eventually experience their True Self. This road is not easy and maybe one in a million will actually do it, but it is the final destination, everyone is moving towards it knowingly or unknowingly.

Defination of Graha from the Suryasiddhant

My Guru taught me a meditation technique from this Vignyan Bhairav Tantra (VBT) which I have detailed in this post. VBT is a collection of 108 techniques for achieving the complete experience of Oneself. Some techniques repeat thus in some translations and texts it is mentioned to be 112 or some other figure. However here are 108 techniques which are described by Bhagwan Bhairav to his beloved Devi Mahamaya Herself. It is the list of options given by the Ultimate to his own fragment souls/us which will help us evade the enticements of His Creative Force! A mind-bender.

So what happens when you do Dhyan. This is Tantra, the practice. Your body is the Yantra, with the energy vertices making perfect multidimensional geometric patterns, a sort of a hyper Meru within you. And your intention is fulfilled using mind entraining techniques called as Mantra.

First and foremost in Dhyan your mind stills. Your mind is imperfect but strangely perfect. This world that we see around us is however quite imperfect. If you can observe energy structures, this world that we see has ‘gaps’ in it, especially around boundaries of individual objects. Our mind cannot make sense of these ‘gaps’, so works to ‘fill in the gaps’ with something that makes sense to it. Our extraordinary mind thus creates a construct. Every single instant your mind is making a construct thus consuming vital energy/prana. It is working frantically every single instant. It needs to be stopped so that it can rest. It needs to be trained to acknowledge the ‘gaps’ and thus slip out of the construct it is creating for itself. It needs to gain confidence to See what is actually there. The Real self is so terrifyingly beautiful, a tremendous paradox that the mind shirks away from “seeing’ it. There are several examples of people who did some spiritual practice or something without proper guidance and lost their minds. Also the mind needs to stop consuming such humongous quantities of vital energy, wasting it creating constructs rather than using it to See Reality.

  • Example from VBT – Bhagwan tells the aspirant to visualise his body full of the Paramtatva/the Ultimate and also the surrounding environment as the Paramtattva too. The skin is to be visualised as a insubstantial barrier between these two sets of Paramtattva. As the concentration becomes deeper the barrier dissolves and both sets of Paramtattva merge and you See the Ultimate. We all are energy, all vibrating at different levels. If the mind can be encouraged to focus on the highest possible energies it will sooner or later entrain itself to this goal you have set for it.
  • The mind in a normal human being works under the direction of Devi Mahamaya. She is the creative principle of the Paramtattva/Bhairav. We are souls born of the Bhairav and we are Bhairav ourselves. She entertains us with her creative force/the mind. In an enlightened soul who has experienced his true identity as Bhairav, mind does not exist as such, it is still, in the Moment.

Now the breathing activity, this connects the mind to the perceived Universe. There are also glaring ‘gaps’ in this breathing activity. The gap between the inhale/purak and exhale/rechak and also between the exhale and the inhale is called the ‘kumbhak’. There are books and books written on this rechak-purak-kumbhak cycle and the importance of Kumbhak. But the operative part is this, the kumbhak is the ‘gap’. If your consciousness can utilize the energies of this ‘gap’ to slip out of the construct you achieve Moksh.

  • Example from VBT – the pran/vital energies do not move in either direction and there is utter stillness, the true self is experienced. There are several references to this Kumbhak ‘gap’ it happens always for a fraction of a second but we are unaware of this as our mind and physical body both partners in crime, gloss over it.
  • Breathing is a very important activity which has to be in your conscious control because this is the most important source of pran/vital energy from the Universal source/Hiranyagarbha/Samashti pran. If you can control the quality and quantity of pran entering your body you have pierced the secrets of the Universe.

Finally when the breath and mind both reach their optimum states of stillness the Reality is Experienced. A simple example.

  • There is a wall of mud blocking your way. You know you have to see beyond it. It is all muddy you cannot see through it. So you take water and wash off the mud. You see that it is in fact a mirror, it is reflecting your perception of yourself. You are caught in your perceived beauty till you realise that you are still stuck on this side. You want to cross this mirror see what is beyond it.
  • You work on the glass again to remove the silvering. It is now transparent you can see through it. There is the Reality you always wanted to see on the other side. You admire it till you realise that you are still stuck on this side of this glass. Even if it is transparent now, this glass is blocking your actual experience. But now you do not know what to do so you keep knocking against the glass with the faith that someone will answer and remove it.
  • Then suddenly you realise that you have now sufficient strength to remove this peice of glass yourself. You do so and merge with your understanding and experience your Self.

Vignyan Bhairav Tantra

Every object that you perceive has the capacity to to lead you to your goal. So the problem is to define your goal. If you concentrate enough on a stone you will become a stone. If you concentrate on the Universe you will become the Universe. If you concentrate on Your Own Self you will Become..

  • Bhagwan Bhairav in VBT tells of concentrating on an enlightened Guru. This is a very deceptive statement. When I think of my Guru, what do I see? A old bald man or the tremendousness that He Is?
  • You can concentrate on sound too, for this Bhagwan tells of the 12 different sounds associated with the different energies of the Dwashant. This is deceptively simple too. But the real sound you should concentrate on is Om, the summary (anta) of the twelve (dwadasha).

All the 108 techniques start off as different techniques but during deep Dhyan they all merge into one continuous experience. You will start off with So-hum, then feel the stillness of the kumbhak, then feel that your eyes will go blind with the crashing beauty of illumination, feel yourself being consumed by time, feel your personal boundary dissolving, it is beautiful and experience is everything. Dissolution of boundaries leads to the light of self realization.

VBT is an exceptional book because it tells you how to go about it. No philosophy and no debates, just the action required. Each line in it is worth a entire book in itself. One post cannot hope to do justice to VBT so will try write more on this as I get more time and experience.

(Here is a link to a copy of VBT, the translations are very basic and word to word.)