Breath control is one of the main practices in yoga. When you breathe up and down the spine (into each chakra) you are meant to breathe deeply. The classical texts on yoga are clear that the lungs should be filled and emptied.
But there are times when my body doesn’t want to breathe deeply. It almost hurts to breathe deeply. So I don’t. I allow my breath to be shallow.
If deep breath takes you into deep meditation, does shallow breathing take you into shallow meditation? I don’t know.
Shallow breathing is that it makes me pay keen attention to my body. The slightest over-expansion on my lungs feels uncomfortable. To stay comfortable – and comfort is essential for good meditation – I have to stay tuned into my body.
The restricted movement of my lungs diffuses my attention into my flesh. Not just any attention, but tender attention – making sure that each breath caresses my lungs and doesn’t push against them.
Deep breathing, deep meditation. Shallow breathing, tender meditation.
There’s a strong pull in my gut. I’m holding my breath and my heart rate has gone up. My muscles are ever so slightly tense. Unblinking, my eyes are devouring the words I’m reading. The words feel like they’re plopping straight into the centre of my brain.
I know this feeling. I get it when I’ve come across something that pulls my soul. I know I won’t be able to let go.
It was the morning of 26th November 2013 and I was looking at an email I’d received from Chris Attwood of The Passion Test http://www.thepassiontest.com/
It was a call for applications to participate in an exclusive course he is running in 2014.
Because the words feel like they’re going straight into the centre of my brain I absorbed the gist of the message, not the details. Although, I didn’t notice this at the time – I was too absorbed. I put aside that morning’s writing, and filled in the application form.