The Healing Breath
THE APACHE CHIEF GERONIMO (1829-1909) is well known as a great warrior. What is less well known is that he used the power of the breath and sacred song to bring about the shamanic transformation that gave him the ability to heal. Like all Native American holy persons and healers, Geronimo understood that healing was a gift from the Source and that breathing links our physicality with our spirituality. Without any effort on our part, through the Breath of Unity we have a constant reminder of who we really are. Every breath tells us that we are One with all things and, above all, One with the Source. Thus breathing and the breath play a central role in all forms of healing, and an understanding and application of this role of the breath is as crucial now as it was in Geronimo’s time.
In today’s world, people are suffering from “soul malaise,” an ailment that can manifest as a number of physical, emotional, and mental conditions that are the outcome of living in a state of disconnection from the sacred. In most cases, people suffering from soul malaise are unaware of the root causes of their illness, distress, or discontent. Breathing has the power to open us up to this awareness by creating space in the mind where we can pause and take stock. In addition, breathing can open up the body and the subtle energy system so that we can take in healing energies. Once this process begins, a regular practice of breathing exercises can provide ways to build inner and outer strength and maintain vitality and energetic protection.
When we choose not to listen to our feelings, our soul prompts the mind to speak to us. We know that something is wrong, somewhere. If we do little to investigate, the message passes to the body. Our body is our friend, but it has to make us aware of the message that something is out of balance. We may then develop physical conditions ranging from the minor to the severe. Throughout this period, our breathing will have undergone changes according to the rhythms of our imbalance (another reason to remain mindful of our breath). Specific breathing exercises can work on the causes of our stress, illness, unhappiness, or discontent in order to restore balance in our lives.
BREATHING FOR SELF-HEALING AND HEALERS
Breathing with a heart-center focus, or attunement, is a way to reconnect with your most balanced state. In the next exercise you will align yourself with the Source of healing as the ideal way to begin your own self-healing practice.
Preparation for Self-Healing, Healing, or Other Therapeutic Practice
Attunement means tuning your consciousness to the Source, like tuning a radio to receive a certain station. Breathing attunement is a simple and effective way to do this. You are able to disengage from the outside world and engage with the inner world of your higher self. The three components of this attunement exercise are effective posture, effective breathing, and effective focus, during which you are relaxed yet fully aware. The exercise may be practiced sitting on a chair or on the floor.
• Sit in a chair so that the two girdles of the pelvis and shoulders are in line. Your spine should be straight; refrain from pushing your chest forward. Hold your head up without straining. Rest your hands, palms up, on your thighs. Have your feet flat on the floor, feeling your connection with the ground. This is your connection with the Earth. (When sitting cross-legged on the floor, this connection is made via your base center.)
• Using your breath, relax your body. With each out-breath, feel yourself relaxing and sinking into your pelvis. Relax your shoulders and the back of your neck. Now close your eyes, while remaining totally alert.
• Breathe naturally, through your nose. Keep your mouth lightly closed with your jaw unclenched.
• Breathe gently into your abdomen and enjoy the feeling of being relaxed yet alert. Recall that your breath is your moment-by-moment connection with the Source.
• Bring your focus to your heart center, the place of your soul or higher self. Allow yourself to be at one with your higher self. Spend a few moments in union with Oneness, recalling that your higher self is always at one with the Source.
•Allow all thoughts to pass through your mind unobstructed. Any sounds around you are simply the accompaniment to your attunement. You are in the world, but nothing disturbs you. You are at one with the Source.
• Having reached this state of attunement, give thanks for the opportunity to be used as a channel for healing. Ask to be as pure a channel as possible. Ask for protection for yourself and for all people, beings, and situations. Dedicate yourself and your therapeutic work and ask for it to be blessed. Add any other prayers you wish, aware that you and the Source are one.
• Now gradually return your attention to your breathing and allow your consciousness to move back into your body. When you feel ready, open your eyes, wiggle your toes, and become aware of your body before you stand up. Use your breathing to keep your focus in your heart center.
From the attuned state, you can move in to spiritual healing mode with yourself or another person. Remember that you are working from a place of unconditional love so you remain unattached to any outcome. Spiritual healing works with the whole person, whether yourself or another whom you wish to help, and is not confined to addressing a specific condition. Have compassion for yourself, anyone else you may be working with, and for the condition itself.