Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Prana & Apana
Copyright Lance Kinseth, 2012
In March, in the Northern Hemisphere,
The increasing tilt of the whole Earth back toward the sun
Spills a bowl,
And spilt wind gushes across the landscape.
WIND DOWNSWEEPS into breath.
Prana—it’s “flowering” and expansion—is richly active in each inhalation of breath. And apana—it’s contraction and emptying—is found, simultaneously, in the inhaler’s down-pressing diaphragm, and in the subsequent exhalation to follow as well. Exhalation perhaps contracts the navel first, and then the chest. And in a complete emptying of the breath, the contraction subtly continues downward into the root base of the pelvis.
As relaxation deepens in this intentional pranayama (breath/energy work), the cessation of breath may occur at the completion of exhalation. Allowing the breath to cease rather than to be held, inhalation can be trusted to begin on its own. With this first new breath, the mind shifts from directing the body (in intentional breathing) to “follow” the breath cycle. The breath becomes an autonomic wave, and the mind, a rider.
Inhalation: It is as if the incoming breath is a soft, slow incoming wave from the sea that gently curls over when it reaches the shore.
And then, exhalation: It is as if the wave is being drawn back out into the vast body of the sea.
In this process, there is the opportunity for harmony: The “little universe” flows in optimal, graced unison within the “big” universe.
And in this process, the chatter of the everyday slows and perhaps transforms, and our view of prana becomes not only physically expansive but also mentally expansive and profoundly subtle. And then perhaps, if we are fortunate:
A deep bow to the trees and flowers
To the wind and waters,
And to every event that we touch in our living:
All is our prana.
A deep bow to those with whom we practice,
To all others of our kind,
Who are also our prana.
The light in me bows to the light in you,
And when we come together in that light,
We are one.