Biologists have a pretty good handle on the purpose and function of the breath. On the in breath, we take oxygen on board and on the out breath, we expel toxic carbon dioxide. If our lungs are clogged, our airways are blocked or our air supply removed, it doesn’t bode well for us. Breathing is essential to life.
The breath though has some other more subtle, yet vital roles which are not generally recognised.
1. Powering Inspiration
Most people speak on the out breath (apart from some Icelandic people and some flautists I discovered).
Try and speak on an in breath to find out what I mean.
Our language, as always, gives somewhat obvious clues as to what is really going on. When we speak we voice our ’aspirations’. The in breath is of course the ’in-spiration’ phase of the whole re-spiration process. It is this ’in-breathing’ process that fires up our imagination and brings in ideas.
So if you find yourself stuck for inspiration, just close your eyes, breathe slowly and rhythmically for a couple of minutes. If you then pay attention to the still point between the in and out breath, the solution to your problem will just pop in ’out of nowhere’.
This works equally well if you go out for a walk (with your eyes open though).
2. Aiding creativity
Our neurons don’t store any oxygen so we need our breath just to think. As our brain uses 20-25% of our body’s energy, this is why it shuts down when we faint to protect our other vital organs.
So if you are starting a creative task, here’s a quick and simple way to give yourself an extra boost.
Close your right nostril with your right index finger and breathe in and out of your left nostril five times. You can do this at whatever speed feels right for you. This has the effect of oxygenating the right brain. Then use your left index finger to close your left nostril and oxygenate your left hemisphere by breathing through your right nostril five times. Repeat as necessary.
3. Controlling our Perception of Time
Time is not as fixed as is normally thought. It is both malleable and stretchable and affected by the speed of our consciousness.
By changing the speed of our breath, we can alter the perceived passage of time. It’s as simple as this. The faster we breathe, the faster time seems to pass. Slow your breath down and time elongates.
Watch this short video from my Slowing Down to Speed Up program to find out more …
So it is just possible by controlling the speed of our breath, we can not only live longer but get more done in the time we do have on this special planet.