Preksha Dhyana: Perception Of Breathing: [3] Perception Of Breathing: Types

Published: 17.02.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

The process of breathing is the medium of manifesting -the consciousness in the body. When the mind is restless, breath is quick, fragmental and shallow. Steadiness of mind makes the breath slow, deep and continuous. Thus there is an inherent unity and mutual interaction between the mind and the breath.

For perception of breathing, the breath is controlled and regulated: it is made to become slow, deep and rhythmic.

Perception of breathing means that the mind is fully engaged in perceiving the breath. It becomes aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Not a single breath escapes the awareness of the mind i.e. every breath is consciously taken and the mind is coupled with breath.

We shall discuss two techniques of śvāsa-prekṣā:

  1. Dīrgha-śvāsa-prekṣā i.e. perception of slow and deep breathing, and
  2. Samavṛtti-śvāsa-prekṣā i.e. perception of breathing through alternate nostrils.

Perception of Deep Breathing (Dīrgha Śvāsa Prekṣā)

As stated before, in deep breathing, upward and downward movement of the diaphragm results in the contraction and relaxation of the abdominal wall-muscles. The action of the abdominal muscles is a real event of the present which can become the object of perception.

The term dhyāna (meditation) is usually defined as the concentration of thought on single particular subject for a length of time. The mind is not only an instrument of thinking but that of perception as well. When linked with prekṣā (perception), dhyāna (meditation) means concentration of perception and not of thought.

Sampikhae appagamappaenam. 'Perceive the self through the self is the basic principle of realizing the deeper levels of consciousness. In practice, we use this principle by concentrated perception of the physical self. And, therefore, we commence its perception by "perception of breathing". In the next step, we shall perceive the internal functions of the body and the vibrations generated by the flow of the vital energy inside the body. Constant practice of perception of breathing sharpens the mind and makes it possible to perceive more subtle functions of the body.

Mental activity is twofold—conceptual thinking and perception. These two functions of mind cannot work simultaneously. The mind engaged in the concentrated perception of an event is not available to the function of thinking. Prekṣā—concentrated perception—is., therefore, a practical way and powerful instrument for inhibiting the restlessness of mind by freeing it from the burden of memory, thought and imagination. Perception of breath will not only steady the mind but also halt the train of thought.

Dīrgha-śvāsa-prekṣā is thus a technique in which total concentration is on the pulsating abdominal muscles. Breathing is slow, deep, continuous and rhythmic. It reduces tensions also. An alternative technique is to be aware of the breath by its contact at the junction of the nostrils. Nostrils are the gate-ways for inhalation as well as exhalation. By focussing the attention on their junction, one can be conscious of each and every phase of the breathing process—the respiratory tract, its rate, depth etc. Normally inhalation of cool outside air would produce a sensation of coolness, and exhalation of warm air a sensation of warmth inside the nostrils. The entire function is a real event of the present. Awareness of the various phases of the breath can keep the mind engaged in its perception and, therefore, bereft of thought.

2. Perception of Breath through Alternate Nostrils (Perception of B.A.N.)

While in perception of deep breathing, the emphasis is on regulating the rate of breathing, in the perception of b.a.n., it is on the regulation of the direction of breath - inhalation from right nostril, exhalation from the left, then inhalation from the left and exhalation from the right. This alternation should be effected by will-power. The mind is firmly attached to the breath and is fully aware of each and every phase of the breath. Such union of conscious mind with breathing through alternate no trills for a length of time, becomes "-perception of b.a.n.".

The practice of b.a.n. and its perception results in a better balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system. It assists in developing the acuteness of perception. In the long run the practice has the potentialities of developing extra­sensory perception and parapsychological capabilities.

Incidently, this technique is a practical example of co­existence of two conflicting (opposing) factors. We know that functions of sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions are opposed to each other, but each one of them is essential for the proper regulation of the body functions. Perception of deep breathing and of b.a.n.—both emphasize on the rhythmic regulation of breathing. The rhythm can be further controlled and regulated by holding the breath for a specific time, both outside and inside i.e. after exhalation and after inhalation respectively. But in this technique of holding the breath, the pause between inhalation and exhalation should not be long as to cause any discomfort. The pause can be lengthened by practice, but at any time it should be easy and effortless, and not causing discomfort or pain.

Sources

Editor: Muni Mahendra Kumar

Copyright: Tulsi Adhyatma Nidam
Jain Vishva Bharati
Ladnun-341 306

Edition: 2004

Printed by: 
S.M. Printers
Uldhanpu, Delhi-32

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Concentration
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dhyāna
  5. Meditation
  6. Perception of Breathing
  7. Prekṣā
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