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Conscious Breath:
Awakening and Cultivating Life's Energy


Take a moment… close your eyes… and breathe — with long, full inhalations and steady, smooth exhalations. Do this for a while, at least five or six breaths, and then allow yourself to become very still, softening your body. Now, focus your attention somewhere in your body, take a few more breaths, and visualize those breaths traveling to and filling that part of your body — noticing any types of sensations such as tingling, flowing, aliveness, fullness, etc. See if you can let these subtle sensations expand and spread throughout your body.

What are those sensations? It is your prana. Your life force. In other systems, known as Chi, Ki, or Qi. Since ancient times, the breath has been recognized as the key to life and health. In fact, the root word for breath is also the word for spirit. While unconscious breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, our breath is readily available to conscious control, and can therefore provide a vital link between our conscious mind and our physical and emotional body — even our deepest spiritual potential.

Conscious breathing helps connect us with awareness to our inner sensations, and spread that awareness throughout our bodies. It quiets the mind by shifting our attention away from outer-world distractions and towards the life-force energy that is constantly coursing through our bodies. Plus, conscious breathing not only enhances our relationship with self, it's also a wonderful way to play and explore with a partner!

Partner Breathing Exercise
Invite a friend to sit with you, face to face. Close your eyes, focus awareness on your breathing, and breath through your mouth - which enhances energy. Inhale and visualize your breath traveling from the base of your pelvis up an imaginary hollow channel (sushumna in Sanskrit) in the core of your body to your heart. Exhale and visualize your breath moving from your heart to your base. When you've established a comfortable rhythm, open your eyes, and continue mouth breathing as you look into each other's eyes.

Allow your breath to harmonize with your partner's. Now, you are both inhaling together, and exhaling together. Take your time. Allow your breaths to become long and leisurely. Remember to maintain eye contact, and communicate to find a comfortable rhythm. Be playful and creative. You can use your hands to trace the path of your breath, moving from the pelvis to the heart, and back again. This helps you stay synchronized and in rhythm with each other. For a variation, try inverting breathing — one inhales as the other exhales, noticing any differences in energy or connection.

After a while, slow your movement, rest your hands on your legs, and allow your breath to become softer. Close your eyes, and return to stillness. Draw your awareness inward, and notice the subtle sensations in your body. Allow these sensations to expand and spread through your body. Rest there and savor your prana.

Open your eyes and look deeply into your partner's eyes in silence, connecting with your breath and inner sensations. Share your experience, then carry your presence and relaxed aliveness into your day.

By Marilynne Chophel

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