I’m not afraid to admit that I lack patience at times. Meditation is one of those things that, when you feel something will go wrong, it usually does. You’ll hear noises, you’ll find yourself too distracted to focus, or your neighbors will be playing music at awkward hours. My Halloween workings last year were interrupted by the church services being held next door. It’s definitely something that needs to be rectified if I ever hope to become a disciplined magician.

I can’t do anything about the people next door who feel they need to turn the amplifiers of their instruments up so high it rattles the entire house in order to praise Jesus, but I can certainly work on other things. Those things include the scheduling the times I meditate, as well as keeping in the habit of at least doing breathing exercises so meditation won’t become so foreign to me that I can’t make progress.

When I think of breathing exercises, I need to take a slight detour back to high school. I explored various art forms that don’t come naturally to me. Among them was choir. My choral director was an amazing woman who felt that breathing exercises were very important. Here are some of the things she taught us:

  • Breathing is vital.
    • One of the first exercises we learned was to imagine the cycle that our bodies were undergoing. Breathe in, envision your lungs expanding with oxygen, your diaphragm providing more room for your lungs. Breathe out, envision your diaphragm returning to its resting position, your lungs deflating, and carbon dioxide leaving your mouth. It was a surprisingly spiritual experience. She guided us through what she felt it signified: It enabled us to continue living, it sent oxygen through our bloodstream, and stressed the importance of how everything in the human body is connected, and that it relies on many parts in order to function.
  • Get into the habit of breathing in through your nose.
    • Unless you use air purifiers regularly, there are a lot of things lurking in the air that you might not know of. Germs, smoke from incense or candles, pollen, dust, etc. Inside your nose are hairs that are used to keep those toxins from getting into your system. So while nose hairs are unsightly, they definitely do serve a purpose
  • Breathe from your diaphragm.
    • The diaphragm sits below your lungs and above your stomach. When you breathe using the diaphragm, it pushes your stomach and intestines down so that your lungs have more room to expand. You’ll breathe a lot deeper and be more aware of your body when you use your diaphragm. It also feels a lot better to do it this way (to me). It feels like there’s less of a strain on your lungs.
      • If you’ve never tried this out before, you can find various guides on line about how to do it. What I’ll simply say is to put your hand above your naval and try to pant like a dog. You should feel your stomach contract. When you breathe deeply, you should feel that same contraction.
  • Sustain your breath.
    • It was important in choir to sustain notes whilst singing, but the applications of sustaining your breath during meditation make as much sense. I can see this being used when you vibrate enns or mantras. It slows your breathing down and is yet another way to become more aware of your body.
    • There are innumerable possibilities for the types of exercises that utilize controlling your breath. Two simple ones are :
      • Breathe in for x number of seconds, hold it for x number of seconds, and release for x number of seconds.
      • Breathe in, hold it, and release it vocally (make an S or hissing sound when you exhale)

Standing (or sitting) up straight are also important. If you sit hunched over you’re not giving your lungs the ample room they need to do their job.

She also told us eating healthy, exercising, and avoiding energy drinks would be beneficial to our overall well-being, but those were just part of the normal Friday speech before class was released for the weekend.

Now I’m at the point where I’m more interested in reminiscing, I’d like to turn it over to you guys. What are some breathing exercises (or meditations) you’ve found particularly helpful in the past? What are things that haven’t worked?

I’d love to hear your comments on the matter!