Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 9th. 2014 ...
Healing the Witch Within
Discovering Wicca as a Young Child
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March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
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The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
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What Makes Us What We Are
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Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
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Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
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The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
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Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
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January 5th. 2014 ...
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December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
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December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
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December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
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A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
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The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Breath and Faking It
Article ID: 13605
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,592
Times Read: 3,023
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Posted: November 1st. 2009
Times Viewed: 3,023
A few months ago, I had a break-through in my meditation practice. It was one of those “duh” moments when I finally realized and 'grokked' something that now seems so simple and makes me wonder why I didn’t know it all along.
I’m a periodic insomniac. It’s nothing new. I remember being 3 years old and unable to fall asleep. As an adult, once every five or six weeks it hits me for several days. Nothing I do or don’t do helps.
My husband is the opposite. He can announce that he’s going to sleep and within 90 seconds I hear snores from his side of the bed or the sofa or the car. Over the years, he’s told me how he does it, but his advice had never helped. It never made sense to me.
One night, a few months ago, I was wide-awake around 3 a.m. Everyone in the room, but me, was asleep. We co-sleep, so both babies were in the room with us. Imagine being immersed in the thick alpha waves of three deeply sleeping people and not being able to join them. I admit I was jealous of their snores. Relaxation techniques, meditation, visualization and even making up stories did not work, and I knew I was in for a long sleepless night. Since our youngest was only two months old, I couldn’t even get up to read. My movement would waken him, and he needed his sleep.
I lay there, not sleeping, listening to the deep breathing of the baby. If you have ever watched a baby sleep, to say that a sleeping baby breathes deep is an understatement. A baby breathes with his entire body, and even more so in sleep. His belly fills up like a balloon and empties out as if deflated. “A complete breath” is the expression that comes to mind. To me a baby has a more natural breath than an adult. They don’t carry as much stress or tension in their bodies. Their diaphragms aren’t constricted and tight from lack of use. There are not tension knots in their throats. Their breath, I would think, is closer to how our breath is supposed to be.
That night, I started noticing the pattern of my babies’ breathing. There is no interruption or pause between the inhalation and the exhalation; it is a smooth in and out. Then there is a slight pause before they draw in another breath. Their breath goes something like this: in and out, slight pause, in and out, slight pause. The pause is not long, maybe a half a second to a second at most.
Babies are nose breathers, inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils. The breath is deep, expanding both the lungs and diaphragm completely. Their entire body moves up and down with each breath.
Now, I’m not a person who naturally breathes deeply. A friend of mine has said that I merely ventilate myself. My breath, I admit, is generally shallow. It takes an hour of yoga or thirty minutes of deep meditation to make my diaphragm relax and my breath deepen without force or focus.
Lying there that night listening to my babies breathe, I don’t know why, but I forced myself to imitate them. At first it was hard. I was using parts of my lungs I don’t normally use and stretching my diaphragm more than it’s used to. After a couple of minutes, it grew easier, sooner than I had expected. I lay there, breathing in and breathing out, as deep as I could. Breathing in and breathing out, mimicking the breath of little babies.
Next thing I knew, it was morning, and I had slept through the rest of the night. Wow, I thought. What happened? The next night, still sleepless, I tried it again. And again, I feel asleep.
I had always thought that deep breathing was a product of physical and mental relaxation brought on by meditation or yoga. When I forced it, as I did, it was neither comfortable nor relaxing. It did not feel natural. Rather, it was strenuous, awkward and difficult. Why, I used to wonder, would I begin my meditation by doing something that is physically hard. It was easier for me to enter an alpha state through mental focus and relax my body, which naturally deepens my breath, than initially to focus on breathing deeply. Was I wrong?
Over the next several weeks, what I discovered with my nightly experiments was that, while forcing my breath to mimic that of a sleeper, even though it was not occurring naturally and was uncomfortable and awkward, it forced my mind and body into a sleep pattern. Faking the breath faked out the mind and body and produced the mental state I wanted.
I tried this new outlook on breathing in other facets. Paying attention to my breath while I was meditated, I noticed how it was different from the breath of sleep. When meditating, there is an added pause, at least for me, between inhalation and exhalation. It went something like: in, pause, out, pause.
My realization made me think of the meditation guides I read long ago saying to focus on the breath. I thought they meant as a foci, as something to concentrate on in order to relax the mind. I didn’t realize it was also a way to learn what your breath is like while meditating in order to reproduce the physical and mental effects using only the breath – no foci necessary.
During ritual I can use my breath to force myself into a deeper alpha state, which is better to feel and control ritual energies. During trance work, when I find myself distracted, the utilization of breath can bring the mind back to the trance.
My discovery that deep breathing, even if awkward and uncomfortable, still leads the body and mind to the desired destination has deepened my meditation practice and trance-work. I am now able to meditate, even when my mind, at first, does not want to focus. An added benefit is that my breathing is now naturally deeper than before, which has physical as well as mental and emotional advantages. Plus, my sleepless nights are now rare – well, except for when the baby keeps me up.
Copyright: Written in 2007.
Also published as MotherBear in ADF's Oakleaves #43 Winter 2008.
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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