Mastering the Square Breath
The breath can be used to increase our strength, to relax into a stretch, to wake us up, or to calm and center us for meditation. The great Sufi master, Hidayat Inayat Khan said, “If there could be any definition of concentration, it would only be the following: synchronized interaction between thought and breath.”
To master your breath is to master your mind.
The following is a simple breathing technique called the square breath as described by Khan but used in many disciplines. According to Khan, the square breath is used when “one wishes to be in an absolutely balanced condition…and everything surrounding one will become harmonious and peaceful.”
It is called a square breath because equal time is spent on the inhale, exhale, and holds between breathes. For example, inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4. You can use any count you feel comfortable with.
To focus your intention further you can inhale from one nostril and exhale through the other. Inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left is helpful if you are looking for inspiration or an answer to a problem. Inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right is appropriate when you want to focus your mind on taking action or on manifesting something.
The discipline of the repetition and the regularity of the breath is what will calm your mind and strengthen your willpower.
When you breathe, focus on what you want. You can imagine an obstacle and then surrender it to the power of your breath.
If things are chaotic and you can’t focus, simply imagine inhaling light and exhaling light. Feel yourself taking the power back from the external happenings and placing it in the power of your breath.
When the mind is at peace life is all of a sudden tolerable, even joyous.
For more on Khan’s breathing techniques read “Sufi Teachings; Lectures from Lake O’Hara”
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