Preksha Dhyana: Perception Of Breathing ► [5] Perception Of Breathing: Benefits

Posted: 19.02.2010
  • Mental Happiness
  • Concentration
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Alertness
  • Equanimity
  • Purity of Perception
  • Energy Generation

Mental Happiness

Numerous benefits accrue from the practice of Prekṣā Dhyāna. Some benefits pertain to the internal functions and some to the external ones: some are physical and some are mental. One of the immediate benefits is mental happiness. As one becomes more accomplished, mental happiness increases. The feeling is not of joy or pleasure, but of happiness. There is much difference between the two. Wherever there is joy, there is bound to be sorrow; they are inseparable. What one achieves as a benefit is happi­ness, and not joy.

Concentration and Operational Efficiency

Perception of breath is an important aid for mental concentration. Besides, it improves circulation, stimulates generation of energy, improves conductivity, and in general, assits the nervous system in its proper functioning. All these collectively result in the control of emotions and passions as well as concentration.

Concentration is an important factor in the daily working and professional field.   Our operational efficiency depends on mental concentration. Be he a doctor, advocate, professor or administrator; be he (or she) a managing director of a large concern or a simple housewife engaged in the domestic work, for good results, every one has to concentrate on his (or her) respective work. When one has not learnt to concentrate one's mind in the work-in-hand or concentrate fully on the present moment, one's operational efficiency would be very low—20% production and 80%) losses. But when he learns to concentrate by training his mental equipment to engage only in the work-in-hand the production will be 80% and losses 20%. The ratio would be reversed

The exercise of perception of breathing is an easy-to-learn and efficient tool to increase mental concentration and thereby enhance operational efficiency. The practitioner of this exercise trains his mind to concentrate fully on the present activity. Mental concentration means giving total attention to the work-in hand, i e. without distraction by memory of the past or planning for the future. Perception of breathing is neither a memory of the past nor an imagination of the future but a reality of the present moment. It is neither imagination nor a mere appearance; it is true and real. And so the exercise of perception of breathing is a tool for concentration on the present moment, of living in the present. Śvāsa prekṣā is strictly an event of the present moment—neither of the past nor oi the future, because one is aware of the breath at the same instant as it happens, neither before nor after. This is exactly what is meant by living in the present moment, be fully aware of the present moment. In business and profession, mental concentration means focussing full attention to the work-of-moment, leaving aside all other work for the time-being. To form the habit of focussing full attention is an excellent means of increasing operational efficiency.

Large industrial, commercial and business concerns spend thousands of rupees in training their top managers to increase their operational efficiency. The training institutions, generally, conduct such training programmes through seminars and   symposia. But the basic factor for the development of efficiency is mental concentration and this can be achieved by the exercise of perception of breathing.

Alertness

Perception of breath is an unfailing tool for increasing mental alertness. As stated, the technique lays down that one should be fully aware of each and every inhalation as well as exhalation. Obviously this is possible only if the mind is alert and wakeful, otherwise the respiration will be mechanical and not consciously controlled. If we use the analogy of a watchman, a sleepy watchman serves no purpose at all, as when he sleeps, anybody can go in and get out. Regular practice of controlled conscious breathing and its perception increases the alertness of mind. Then, not a single breath can escape its attention, and there will be total awareness. When breath and mind are yoked together, they must travel together, remain together. If one of the two companions goes to sleep, the company would be broken. Granted that normally it is not easy to limit the orbit of the wandering mind. The path of breath is very limited while that of the mind is extensive. Breath travels from the nostril to the lungs—a very small and narrow path. Mind can wander around the world. Indeed it is difficult to couple such divergent partners—a giant with the speed of lightning and a dwarf which moves around at a snail's speed, but it can be done. Thus, it is a simple and positive technique for awakening the mind and keeping it alert.

Our purpose is to keep the mind fully awake and alert. The practice of śvāsa prekṣā is a powerful means of achieving this purpose. Once the mind has been fully awakened, its restlessness and wandering vanishes and it becomes vigilant and disciplined.

Equanimity

When we are fully aware of the present moment alone, emotional like and dislike disappear. In the absence of memory or imagination, there is neither attachment nor aversion. Freedom from the memory and imagination is also freedom from attachment and aversion.

Awareness of the present moment is thus realization of pure consciousness and perception which is pure and unadulterated, that is uncontaminated by the emotional impurity of like and dislike. That is the moment of present, pure and uncorrupted.

We can see from the above that conscious breathing leads to equanimity. Perception of breath is perception of the present moment which means resting and relaxing the mind by removing mental tension. Regular practice of śvāsa prekṣā is a sure remedy for tension.

Purity of Perception

Śvāsa-prekṣā is also an efficient tool for purifying the perception. Pure consciousness is characterised by the faculties of intuition and perception, or rather pure knowledge and pure perception. Our sensory outposts send thousands of messages to our conscious mind every moment. Some of these are perceived, while many others are ignored. The process by which the mind converts raw sensation into perception is complicated. Perception varies by an infinity of factors, and the state of emotion, in particular, has a profound and, at time, decisive effect. Thus when the intensity of emotions is low (or nil), perception will be pure. But when the emotions are strong, perception is contaminated and coloured. When this happens, mental activity is diverted from perception to conceptual thinking and the mind begins to wander into the labyrinths of logic and inference. A priori logic is not accepted as an infallible instrument for realization of truth. Realization of truth needs application of pure consciousness, which is concomitant with pure perceptual cognition. Śvāsa-prekṣā is the first step in this direction. Progress in right direction follows till one reaches the goal. Śvāsa-prekṣā is the step in the right direction of realization of truth.

In other words, śvāsa-prekṣā is the process of pure perceptual cognition, where conception vanishes and perception reigns supreme. The mind cannot be engaged in both conception and perception at the same time. Thus as soon as the concentration of perception begins, conceptual activity recedes and the mind ultimately steadies itself in perception only.

Śvāsa-prekṣā is, therefore, an instrument of developing the basic qualities of consciousness. Normally when we are engaged in perception through our sense-organs, emotional likes and dislikes are concomitant with it. Mental attachment or aversion towards the object of perception follows. For instance, as soon as we smell something, a mental analysis of the smell into good smell or bad smell also occurs followed by likes or dislikes. Pure perceptional cognition is one in which smell is just smell without the element of likes or dislikes attached to it.

In the practice of śvāsa-prekṣā, the conscious mind is fully coupled with breath, i.e. there is full awareness of each breath. Awareness of breath does not need any thinking, and in fact, the mind is not engaged in thought but fully engaged in perception of breath. Thus it is a practice of pure perception. Besides, it also develops the concentration of mind.

Energy Generation

When we practise dīrgha-śvāsa-prekṣā, our breathing is complete and scientific, which means that we are tapping the primary sources of bio-energy. Perception of breath might appear insignificant, but it should not be under­valued. It is like pushing the thin end of the wedge to achieve wider benefit. The fact is that we are not tapping a part of the energy-source but the whole of it. As our breathing becomes more and more complete, we produce more vital energy; and its perception leads us to its origin. Activizing this primary source enables us to obtain unlimited energy. Thus śvāsa-prekṣā is a very important means of achieving new and higher stages of consciousness.

Samavṛtti-śvāsa-prekṣā is also a valuable instrument of developing energy. Psychologists have discovered that higher levels of consciousness can be achieved by samavṛtti-śvāsa-prekṣā. Extra-sensory perception (E.S.P.) such as clairvoyance can be developed by regular practice of samvṛtti-śvāsa-prekṣā. Many other parapsychological achievements are possible by its practice.

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