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Pranayama is the control of life force, or the intelligent, universal energy, which is present throughout creation. Prana is represented in physical creation in five ways; these are the five elements. Each element nourishes us in a different way.



The EARTH element nourishes us with food i.e. sugars, fats, vital minerals (Vitamins) etc.

The WATER element nourishes us with liquid i.e. H2o and fruit/vegetable waters.


The FIRE element nourishes us with sunshine i.e. ultraviolet rays, warmth.

The AIR element nourishes us with oxygen through the lungs into bloodstream direct.


The ETHER element nourishes us with positive thinking, being devotional, wise, and happy.

 

 These five elements are manifested in five of the Chakras, or energy centres, of the spine.

1. EARTH – Muladhara Chakra – spinal base. 

2. WATER – Svadhisthana Chakra – lumber back.

3. FIRE – Manipura Chakra – navel.

4. AIR – Anahata Chakra – heart.

5. ETHER – Visshuddha Chakra – throat.


However, the sixth element, which remains unmanifested in creation, is the source of the five elements mentioned above. Even subtler than air, and ether, it is known as the cosmic vibration, or the “Aum” vibration. This vibration enters the body through the medulla oblongata, (at the base of the skull and top of the neck) and from there, it descends into the five elements, which are represented in the body by the Chakras mentioned above. The cosmic vibration, after entering the body, is reflected at the sixth Chakra, the Ajna Chakra, or third eye.

It is possible to be directly nourished by the cosmic vibration, which, after all is an amalgamation of all the elements in their potential form. In order to do this, the five elements than ordinarily sustain the body must be controlled. The body must be calmly and naturally restricted of its five-fold nourishment. Only when the body is encouraged to release its dependence on the five elements does the need awaken in the body to look to the next available source of energy, which is the 6th element, Aum.

Food, water, and sunshine are easy enough to hold back and restrict from entering the body. Pranayama is the technique of bringing the breath under control. It is not a case of taking more oxygen into the body with Pranayama, but actually getting the body used to having less, in other words, breathing less often; making one single breath last longer. The final aim of Pranayama is to relieve the body of the need to breathe. By doing this, the body will require a higher source of nourishment and energy.

The control of the breath also controls the conscious mind. Breath is air, and thought is ether. By focusing the mind on the slowing down of the breath in Pranayama, the mind will also slow down. As the breath and mind slow down, the cosmic vibration gradually awakens. When the breath is less than a whisper, and the thoughts are absent, the Aum vibration becomes more potent. When the breath is finally still, and the mind is still, but conscious of its position, the 6th element, the cosmic vibration, is sustaining the body.  

This can be experienced for a few seconds, or up to a few minutes; but this feeling should never be forced upon the body. This is not retention of breath, nor is it wilfully denying inhalation. This experience should come naturally. There should be no natural desire to breathe; but again, this is not holding the breath, nor refusing to breathe after an exhalation is complete, it must be a totally calm, natural, unstrained, and pleasant experience.

 

 

 

Method:


  • Two words are used in this method. “Aum,” which is the sound of the 6th element, and “Shanti,” which means deep peace and tranquillity.

 

   

  • These words are linked to the breath; thus, the mind and breath are tied together. On inhalation, the word “Aum” is mentally chanted once, and on exhalation, the word “Shanti” is mentally chanted once. Remember, breath is shy. The closer you watch it, the further away it will hide!

 

  • This technique is very simple; the difficult part is the concentration.

 

  1. Sit in meditation posture, with the spine erect. Keep the chin parallel to the floor, the shoulders relaxed, the hands on the knees, or the lap, with the palms turned up.

  

  1. Keep your eyelids gently shut, and your eyes softly focused at the third eye centre, the Ajna Chakra. Try to concentrate on any light you may see there, but do not strain, or try too hard to see the light.

 

  1. Do not try to adjust your breathing in any way at all; simply observe your breathing pattern, noticing whether it enters the abdomen of the lungs.

  

  1. Resisting adjusting your breath, mentally begin to chant “Aum” with the inhalation, and “Shanti” with the exhalation.

 

  1. After a little while, you will notice your breath is slowing down, as is your mind. Soon, more time will elapse between the in and out breath. There will begin to be longer pauses, where the body is not breathing, when it is relaxed and still.

 

  1. Continue observing the breath until the gaps become long; then start to concentrate on the gaps more intensely. When a pause occurs, take your consciousness deep into that moment, and feel the serenity. Then when you have to breath again, do not resist.

 

  1. Carrying on in this way, the pauses will become much longer than the chanting; and at those points be aware that the cosmic vibration is sustaining you, and keep focused on its reflection at the third eye centre.

 

  1. Eventually you will forget the breath for longer periods, and after you finish the meditation; after 15 minutes or longer, you will feel more refreshed than you would after many hours sleep!

 

  • With practise, you will be able to practise this anywhere, whenever you wish to relax, and sleep for example. Or if you are in a polluted area, you can practise this and not require the breath so much, thus saving pollution entering your body.

 

  • Remember, this is not holding the breath, or denying the body air if it wants to breath. It is a natural process.