It is impossible to canalise and concentrate
the mental functioning if the breath is not adequately regulated. Breath
is essential for metabolic functioning of the body. It is also linked with
conscious mind. Since mind is ever restless, it is extremely difficult to
steady the wandering mind directly. An efficient and easy way to control
mental activity is concentrated perception of breath-Svasa Preksa.
regulation of respiration by the conscious mind results in the development
of the controlled activity of the mind. To stop the restlessness of the
mind, and canalise its functioning, it is essential to be aware of breathing.
Shallow, hasty and irregular (spasmodic) breathing must first be regulated
to be deep, slow, calm and rhythmic. Even in Kayotsarga, breathing is
not stopped, but is made subtle.
slow and rhythmic breathing is an essential condition for regulating mental
process. Very slow inhalation and complete exhalation (by the use of diaphragm)
is called dirgha svasa deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.
awareness of breathing and nothing else but breathing is the basis of
Svasa Preksa. Attention can be kept focussed on a single point in the
respiratory tract, e.g. nostrils or it can travel the entire tract during
inhalation as well as exhalation. Various facets of breathing, such as
movement of the diaphragm, rate of breathing and depth of breathing can
conveniently become the object of Svasa Preksa.
Svasa Preksa can be practised
in two ways viz. dirgha svasa and samavrtti svasa.
Dirgha Svasa Preksa
already explained above, Dirgha svasa is slow and complete exhalation
and deep inhalation. The first step in this process is to regulate the
rate of breathing by reducing the number of breaths per minute. Normally
a healthy adult's rate of breathing is 15/17 breaths per minute (b.p.m.).
By practice of diaphragmatic breathing, this rate can be drastically reduced.
Even casual practice can easily bring it down to 10/12 b.p.m. And further
regular practice can reduce the rate to 6, 4 or even 2 or 1 b.p.m.
of breath, reduction in its rate, and the rhythm results in steadying
the mind. Simultaneously, urges and impulses, emotions and passions and
their impelling forces--the primal drives -- all become amenable to control.
When the breath is shallow and its rate high, primal drives and passions
are aroused, strengthening the urges and emotions. Quick breathing acts
as a vehicle for all these distortions. One can easily pacify the passions
by regulating the breath. If one slows down the breath-rate and commences
rhythmic breathing, the passion forces would at once be retarded. This
is because they are deprived of the vehicle, and without a transport they
cannot make much headway. A practitioner of meditation would, in due course,
be able to perceive in advance the onslaught of rising passions, and thus
will be prepared to nullify their attack by resorting to 'dirgha svasa'.
The rising passion would then begin to subside. Thus by blunting the sharpness
of their attack, a sadhaka saves himself from being the victim of the
dreadful urges and emotions.
is a reality of the present moment. Practice of Svasa-preksa leads the
sadhaka to live equanimously and impartially. He will also get rid of
tension as a side benefit.
stated above, Preksa Dhyana is the technique of seeing one's own self.
Breath is the gate-way to the self(consciousness). To commence the internal
trip, one must pass through the main gate way of breath. And when mind
and breath become inseparable, companions, the journey begins. In theory
breath is a part and parcel of the self; and so one can realize the goal
of reaching the self via the breath. In practice, seeing oneself simply
means perception of all aspects of breath by the conscious mind.
Samavrtti Svasa Preksa
Dirgha Svasa Preksa, Samavrtti Svasa Preksa is also an important process
of this meditation system. Here breath is exhaled through one (say, left)
nostril and inhaled through the other (right). Then exhaling through the
right, it is inhaled through the left. Throughout the process, the perceptive
mind is closely linked with the breath. As in Dirgha Suasa Preksa, breath
is regulated to be rhythmic. In due course by the practice of this, one
can develop the inherent capacities of the subconscious mind such as extrasensory
perception, clairvoyance etc.