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Mindful : October 2019
Making Friends with the Breath My experience was somewhat less dramatic. But I spent a few weeks practicing Brown and Gerbarg’s exercises, using the CD included with their book, and was impressed by the calming and energizing effect the techniques had on me. I think it helped that I had done Vranich’s intense workouts and had a greater command of my breathing muscles. At one point, I was so immersed in the long five-breaths-per-minute sequence that I lost the self-con- sciousness I’d often experienced meditating, and let myself surf along with the breath. The years I’d spent terrified of my breathing suddenly faded into memory. A few weeks later, I did my last BIQ reading with Dr. Vranich. It seemed almost anticlimactic, given everything we’d been through, but the tale of the tape was indisputable. My inhale measurement was 411⁄2 inches and my exhale 373⁄4 inches, for a total of 3.75 inches and 99% vital lung capacity. “Congratulations, sir, you’re a completely horizontal breather!” she exclaimed. Then, without missing a beat, she added, “Now that you’re an A student, why not go for an A-plus?” You must be joking, I said to myself. But looking into her eyes, I realized that in her view, despite all the work I’d done, I’d just skimmed the surface. Jim Morningstar, a psychologist I interviewed for this story, describes the breath as one of our most intimate companions because we can’t go for more than a couple of minutes with- out it. “ When you connect with your breath, you’re connecting with your spirit,” he said. “That’s the experience many people have doing breathwork. After a while, they’re not breathing anymore. They’re being breathed.” Clearly, I still had a long way to go. But I was excited about the next part of the journey because my relation- ship with my breath had shifted. To borrow Humphrey Bogart’s famous line, it felt as if this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. ● m ONLINE MINI-COURSE Calm Your Mind and Focus Your Attention with Zindel Segal In this 4-part series you’ll explore the 3-Minute Breathing Space prac- tice to develop your ability to ground yourself, return your attention to the present, and fully find yourself at any moment. mindful.org/ breathing- space This series is available to subscribers only 72 mindful October 2019 well-being