Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
Nothing Special... Part Two
The Third Path
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichťs
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
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
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Posted: November 1st. 2009
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A few months ago, I had a break-through in my meditation practice. It was one of those ďduhĒ moments when I finally realized and 'grokked' something that now seems so simple and makes me wonder why I didnít know it all along.
Iím a periodic insomniac. Itís 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 donít do helps.
My husband is the opposite. He can announce that heís 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, heís 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 couldnít 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. ďA complete breathĒ is the expression that comes to mind. To me a baby has a more natural breath than an adult. They donít carry as much stress or tension in their bodies. Their diaphragms arenít 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 babiesí 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, Iím 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 donít know why, but I forced myself to imitate them. At first it was hard. I was using parts of my lungs I donít normally use and stretching my diaphragm more than itís 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 didnít 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 Ė 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 Ė 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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