Keys to understanding the universe #3: hidden breathing techniques

First of all thanks to JV Avadhanulu for introducing me to Vivekanda and his wisdoms,
and to David Cook for providing half of the content of this article.
In the previous article the horizontal and lateral movements in our body were explained.
and this article is based on those theories.

Knowledge of spiritual principles is often used (by false Gurus) to impress spiritual beginners, but of no real use if it is not clear how to apply them.
Since there is enough written on Zen, Qi Gong, Tai Qi, martial arts, dietary approaches and health advices, this article focusses on hidden and deeper principles which, when applied in combination and with perseverance, can facilitate an ultrafast growth towards an expanded mind.
So here are instructions on how to implement those 2 principles in exercises,
and the following instructions will then reveal another third secret:


3a.) Practical application of the principle of up and down movements

How how to descend and ascend the energy (as described in ancient texts) is brilliantly explained by Christopher Wallis in this following video:

Note that in ancient Tantric and Kundalini texts the Kundalini is compared to a snake not due to it correlating to the spine, but to a coil (the sleeping position of a snake), which uncoils when the breathing exercise is done.

The tremendous value of the Kundalini energy – not only for spiritual, but also physical wellbeing – can be seen even in the west today in the snake symbols which in old days suggested a holistic health.
It’s ironic that this is the symbol  of the pharmacy – the branch of medicine which is least concerned with holistic health and which causes as much harm as benefits by patenting extracted chemicals and thereby ignoring the properties of the entire plant for the sake of greed.

The Kundalini-snake-like pharmacy symbol much longer was known already as the Caduceus staff of Hermes Trismegistos as mentioned in the first article.


3b.) The application of the principle of the middle path or neutrality
the balance between extremes.

In the Ginans, which are devotional hymns or poems recited by Shia Ismaili Muslims.
One is mentioned on this site here, and another one sates:

NAR NAKALA(N)K KEREE VAAT KOIK JAANNE RE
When the breath arises from (in the state of enlightenment) 
the region of the navel inside the body, perform rythmic 
inhaling and exhaling of air which leads to spiritual joy and salvation.
 
Friends through activation of the nerve (or force) channels inglaa,
pinglaa and sukhmanaa focus your concentration and awareness; 
this will kill all the desires of the (lower) mind.
 
Consider the nerve curvature ('va(n)k naadd') as the true centre
(between the two eye brows). Focus the vision of your two eyes
(the moon and the sun) upon it regularly.
 
If you maintain your awareness in this manner, then your ordinary 
consciousness will burst into supra-consciousness (divinity). 
When this happens you will feel the awareness of divinity in every 
hair of your body and nobody can forget this.

The last promise of supra-consciousness alone should be reason enough for any open minded person to pursue this path until succeeding in order to leave the pain of materialistic misconceptions behind.

Just as in the Kabbalah, here we clearly also have the
3 pilars: iglaa, pinglaa & sukhmanaa (the central one),
and the dualistic sun & moon (yin& yang) aspect which are to be balanced.
How this is exactly accomplished is written below:

The left-right-center relationship

There are several ways to practice yoga to accomplish that. One is an exercise called “the joyous mind”,
and here is a great article explaining this 3-pillar relation to the body from a Hindu perspective:

* The left pillar relating to the Ida Nadi (moon channel)
* The middle pillar relating to the Shushumna Nadi (center channel)
* And the right pillar relating to the Pingala Nadi (sun channel)

This is the middle pillar which in islam is also called the sukhmanaa
and in this article western medicine article is referred to the vagus nerve
(but western medicine usually misses out the energetic and spiritual aspects)
David Cook also added:

In the introduction of the book “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali” by BKS Ivengar, he talks about asanas (positions), actions and effects, “To advanced students, a teacher teaches a whole asana in relationship to what is happening in a single action. At this subtlest level, when we are able to observe … and adjust the flow of energy in ida, pingala, susumna (the three principal nadis, or energy channels) the macrocosmic order of nature is perceived in even the smallest aspects”.
In the very extensive glossary at the back, nadis are described as “channels through which energy flows in the subtle body”, and goes on to list 17 other named channels besides these three we are speaking of. Susumna is also listed as the “Nadi which controls the central nervous system”.

And whilst I was researching the different methods and going to other yoga-seminars for comparison, I found out a hidden and nowhere mentioned secret principle:


3c.) The breath ratio of 1:4:2

Kriya Yoga works with this breathing ratio, and Tantra which is much older than Yoga (and btw not primarily focussed on sex only); also stated in the Sharada Tilaka Tanta the 1:4:2 ratio:

Inhale through the left nosril (concentrating on the left side of the spine) for 16 counts. Hold the breath for 64 counts guiding energy into the central channel of the spine (shushumna). Exhale through the right nostril for 32 counts.
It states that this can be done with or without a mantra recited mentally.

( 16:64:32 does boil down to a ratio of 1:4:2 when reduced to its smallest denominator).

Whilst Christopher Wallis did not mention this ratio in his video-speech above, he mentioned that the most important part is the one where the in-breath and outbreath meet – the holding of the breath, which is given the longest time in the 1:4:2 ratio.

Many thanks go out to JV Adhanulu, who passed on this instruction from the Indian Yogi Vivekanda to me over a decade ago and therewith introduced me to Indian originals:

Slowly fill the lungs with breath through the Ida, the left nostril, and at the same time concentrate the mind on the nerve current. You are, as it were, sending the nerve current down the spinal column, and striking violently on the last plexus, the basic lotus which is triangular in form, the seat of the Kundalini. Then hold the current there for some time. Imagine that you are slowly drawing that nerve current with the breath through the other side, the Pingala, then slowly throw it out through the right nostril. This you will find a little difficult to practise. The easiest way is to stop the right nostril with the thumb, and then slowly draw in the breath through the left; then close both nostrils with thumb and forefinger, and imagine that you are sending that current down, and striking the base of the Sushumna; then take the thumb off, and let the breath out through the right nostril. Next inhale slowly through that nostril, keeping the other closed by the forefinger, then close both, as before. […] Here it is well to begin with four seconds, and slowly increase. Draw in four seconds, hold in sixteen seconds, then throw out in eight seconds.
This makes one Pranayama

Vivekanda’s 4:16:8 breath ratio also boils both down to a 1:4:2 ratio.

Why 1:4:2 ? It sounds counter-intuitive to breath out longer than to breath in, but here are some of the reasons:

As mentioned in the last article: in the Kabblah the Sun is numerological seen as a one (the initial yang impulse) – “the word which was in the beginning”,
and the moon as the receptive yin which reflects the suns light, hence a two,
so the air is taken in one beat and breathed out in two beats.
(Remember the Emerald Tablets: “The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.” So the breath in is an act of creation (sun), the wind carries it in its belly with 1 beat, the earth digests it there with 4 beats, and the reflective moon is its mother (hence 2 beats breath out).

We also know that it usually takes much longer to digest the fast action which happened firsthand – hence a longer outbreath.

The reason for the 4 beats of holding the energy in the neutral middle pillar has many reasons, one being that
4 is also the path the path of the solar energy to our planet earth which takes the 4 steps: 1. Sun -> 2. Mercury ->  3. Venus-> 4. Earth/Moon.
So the entire macrocosm is internalised into the own microcosm. (This is btw half of  the order how the energy moves throughout the day, so your setting yourself up for the day when doing this as an exercise)

There is also a psychological fact by drawing down the divine impulse through our breath, and before in a contemplated way releasing it, holding it for double the time of a moon-reflection which :

  • 1 beat in-breath: something worldly happened (breath in)
  • holding the breath contemplation upon the worldly in-breath (2 beats)
    • then an echo of this reflective 2 beats, making it 4 beats holding the breath,
    • which then creates a reflection on the reflector:
      (who am I – the one who reflects ?) This is very important when the divine starts to merge with the self in self-realisation.
    • and the “echo” also has a meta effect and transforms the breather in the breathed one, or the “doer” into an effortless “be-er”.
  • 2 beats out-breath:
    I see both sides of that coin of contemplation, moving someone beyond dualism.

Japanese people might have an inherent sense for this echo, because foreigners who learn their language often are recognised for not upholding the pause after the short yang exclamation-like Japanese sentences.

In rhetoric there is also a dynamic of 1. thesis 2.synthesis and 3.antithesis, so the trinity of this breathing pattern affirms its validity on a subconscious level.

This, by the way is the mathematics of the pyramid: 3 sides over a plane with 4 corners or sides, giving rise to the assumption that one of its functions is to harness and transform sun power -> hence the name “Pyra-mid” (fire in the middle). Medi-tation in combination with a prana-exercise to direct the fire to the central channel, does just that and therewith is an internal recreation of the pyramids – another indication that the mysteries of the universe can be solved from within.

Image result for pyramid


To sum it up (look at the Emerald Tablets from the last article):

The breathing pattern goes through a path similar to the first astrological symbol of Aries (if that was overlaid over a body):

  1. beat: Breath enters through the left nostril … (the sun is its father)
  2. … (4 beats :the breath goes down to the belly see below) …
  3.               … the breath finally exits through the right nostril (2 beats mother moon).

Image result for aries
… 2. the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.” …
File:1. Pooruck Pranaiyam -Puraka pranayama-. 2. Kumbuck -Kumbhaka-. 3. Raichuck -Recaka-..jpg

So the biggest transformative work happens when holding the breath for 4 beats (preferably in the belly), because it digests anything that happened and also reflects on our reaction to our digestion: hence it dissolves the aspect of literal “re-actions” and therewith Karma. Hence chanting also should be done out of the belly to be more effective.

You may implement those breathing techniques in your spiritual practice to refine it.

<previous article: #2 left, up, down, right                      Next article: #4: The right posture>

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