- the parasympathetic nervous system may be stimulated (lowering both heart rate and blood pressure), and
- neurochemistry may be altered, increasing the production of alpha brain waves and the reduction of reactivity to stimuli.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Shining Spring/Shun Sho, 2011
North’s bow to the sun
Spills the ocean of sky.
Treetops become windsingers.
WINTER IS FALLING APART. And with its fall, March winds bring awareness to breath.
Perhaps a hundred thousand miles of wind pass overhead annually—freshness endlessly replacing freshness.
Each hour, we might take 700 to 900 breaths, perhaps 20,000 breaths daily, and more than 150,000 breaths weekly. Air is dynamic, not static, with oxygen moving at a thousand miles per hour at a cool room temperature of fifty degrees Fahrenheit [but blazing hot in the context of the universe], colliding continually every 1/10000 inch.
Each breath offers a communion of sorts: Each breath easily contains several thousand- billion-billion atoms—breathed by living organisms and past living biota, and atoms once comprising the bodies of most plants, animals and people, and atoms from the oceans, the body of the Earth, and all atoms, originally from generations of stars. We image the breath as offering us refreshing oxygen, and it does. But each breath contains a taste of nearly everything—powdered glass and quartz and mica, carbon particulate from exhausts, meteoritic dust, plant spores and pollen, viruses and encysted bacteria, radioactive iodine 131, cesium 137, and on and on, ad infinitum.
Looking like next to nothing, the encompassing atmosphere is dense and even weighty. Each cubic inch of atmosphere contains perhaps 440 billion billion atoms. We live in the belly of an abyss of atmosphere. We wear a half-ton robe of atmosphere that sustains a temperate climate [that glows with radiant energy] and shields us from harsh solar radiation.
Attending to the breath, body and mind come directly together.
We might attend to the breath just as it is, imagining breath as a wave or a horse and our mind, a rider.
Remaining calm, the body begins to “soften” the breath. Practically, softening the breath corresponds to lengthening the inhalation/exhalation breath cycle. We might intentionally imagine inhaling into the belly or lifting the lower ribs that fills the lower lungs and eases the lengthening of the breath. The rate of respiration gradually decreases, but oxygenation remains either stable or is enhanced and, gradually,
Consciously attending to the unconscious, “automatic” breath, we gradually do more than physiologically calm and quiet ourselves. Body and mind calm, expanding attention both internally and externally. In the calmness and quietness, we begin to listen to the body, to observe thoughts coming and going. Our language and thoughts may gradually begin to blossom beyond everyday chatter.
As body and mind come together, there may be an increasing sense of the integration—“the coming together,” the inseparability—of all of our experiences. The calmness enhances our ability to listen deeply to the body, perhaps opening an increasing sense of intuition—of hearing something very authentic emanating from within that is offering us away forward in optimal health.