The Breath Of Life

There is something very interesting about the various alternative health publications I read these days. There is also something equally interesting about many of the best known alternative healers whose names are rapidly becoming the stuff of legend among those who “just say no” to allopathic medicine. 

For the most part, the natural health magazines, journals and newsletters I receive talk about the importance of vitamins, minerals and other supplements. They discuss all the various herbs, essential oils and also flower essences. They delve into homeopathy and Chinese alternative medicine. They touch on meditation, reflexology, massage, fasting and even visualization. And of course proper nutrition and the essentials of proper diet, fiber, plenty of fruits, raw veggies and so on are covered extensively. 

All of this is good and all of it has merit. However I find it interesting that there is something so basic and so vital to health, it is a given, yet I have yet to read about it as a suggested form of healing or a discussion of it’s obvious place in the daily maintenance of health and even life itself.

From what I can tell, even the best know healers fail to emphasize this most vital, to my mind, of all essentials to health and well being. I am sure the fact that this miracle cure is free and abundantly available has nothing to do with the blatant omissions I have observed; more I think it is simply a matter of failing to see the forest for the trees.

What is this miracle of health and vitality? And if it is indeed of such wondrous value, how can it be free? Why is it not shouted from every rooftop and preached about by every healer great and small?

Since my editor expects me to supply articles of more than a paragraph or two, please allow me to continue building suspense just a bit longer before I reveal this most astonishing and profound healing technique; one that has been overlooked and for the most part ignored by the alternative healing community, at least in print.

For example, I recently asked an alternative medicine professional with several doctorates what he considered to be the single most important thing one can do to become healthy or to maintain health. He advised that there were many things one should and must do, not one, and that it would be very difficult for him to narrow his answer down to one single thing of greater important than all others.

Amazing! I ask you, how this can be? Especially when it is well known that when we have looked at those pockets of humanity in and around the world known to live the longest and enjoy the best overall health during their extended lifetimes, there is one main common denominator generic to them all!

This healing technique is easy to do and is something anyone can use to begin immediately improving their health and sense of well being. It costs nothing, other than a few moments of ones time. And if one happens to be involved in some other healing regime, it can only aid in the effectiveness of any other therapies or techniques.

And best of all one need purchase no props or external aides of any kind, nor books, tapes or videos. It is something you can do equally as well in privacy of your own home or while sitting in the midst of a crowd.

Perhaps you are curious enough by now to be hoping this isn’t some sort of joke . . . hoping I am serious and that I will in fact offer you some miraculous healing technique that is easy to do and free and will make a profound difference in your health and your vitality. However, you may also fear there is no such thing.

Well there is indeed such a thing and I know it is the most important thing I can do to be healthy and to be full of energy and to feel truly alive in every sense of the word.

So what is “it” already? Oddly, though I have practiced this technique for almost thirty years, I’ve only heard it mentioned once by a health practitioner, this being at a lecture given by Andy Weil, M.D. The talk was long and though Dr. Weil may well know a great deal about alternative medicine, he said only one thing during his lecture that was really new and wonderful, as far as I could tell.

Someone asked Dr. Weil what the most important thing they, or anyone, could do to be healthy. I was shocked and delighted when he told a story that went something like this:

“I have a mentor. He is a Chiropractor who is over 90 years old and still has a very active practice. He’s got tons of energy and loves his work. He taught me more about healing than anyone I know. So I asked him one time that same question. What is the secret of health, the most important thing one can do every day to be healthy. Well this old Chiropractor is a large guy and he spread his bear-like arms wide and drew in a huge deep breath and he said BREATHE!”

Not much more was said on the subject and lot’s of folks laughed as if it was a joke or something. But the old doctor spoke only the truth, my friend; however, the secret is not just breathing, but BREATHING!

BREATHING and breathing exercises; I do them every day, religiously.

The ancients were wise in many ways. They noticed that of all the things we living beings need, air is the most important. They saw that we can survive without food for many days. They saw we can live without water for a time. However, if we are removed from air, we cannot survive beyond a few moments. So they determined that air was perhaps the most important element needed to maintain life.

But this is obvious, you say . . . of course we must breathe to live and if we don’t breathe we will certainly not be healthy for very long. So what else is new!!??

Truth is there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. Please listen and learn. What I am going to say here is perhaps one of the most important things you will ever read regarding the subject of healthy living.

Correct breathing is absolutely essential to health and well being. Practicing simple daily breathing exercises will change your life in ways that must be experienced to be appreciated or understood. In a few moments I will share with you the breathing exercises I personally do every day. But first let’s thing about this subject for a moment or two.

During the earliest times of life on this Earth, we humans were a different sort of animal. We were hunted as food and we were hunter gatherers ourselves. We were very active beings . . . the majority of our day was spent in supplying our basic needs of food, water and shelter. This was a full time job and it was hard work.

Our internal systems were designed around this high level of activity. As you know, active people breathe deeply and they enjoy good digestion. This is because the digestive system does not function properly without physical activity and without deep abdominal breathing. We were once, throughout a good portion of the day, very much involved in running, climbing, gathering and trying to keep from being gathered ourselves by other animals of prey. All in all it was an exciting and healthy way to live.

Look around you today. See what we’ve become, especially here in the good old US of A? All in all, we are a pudgy lot who have even forgotten how to breathe. Just watch a group of folks. Can you see them breathing? For the most part no. It is obvious that they are, but you can’t really tell by looking.

As was true eons ago, those of us who are ruddy and healthy are the ones who lead active lives, who exercise and who enjoying doing more than watching. Still we are, for the most part, a nation of watchers more than anything else.

Ever hear the term “couch potato”. Ever peer at a computer screen? We get most of our kicks by watching others do things or pretend to do them. We are for the most part a sedentary race this day and time. So we just naturally don’t do much deep breathing. And this is a disaster as far as our health and well being goes.

Added to this sad fact is an even worse woe, the air we do breathe is often polluted or at best, stale, due to the lack of ventilation afforded by our modern air tight buildings. What’s more, our shallow non-breathing renders our lungs a source of illness rather than life-giving health. Most of us almost never fully exhale the air from our lungs. This allows all manner of toxins to remain stagnate in the lower lungs for days at a time, which taxes our weakened immune systems even more!

In short, if we want to improve the health of our population, we must teach them to BREATHE! Will you help? Why not start with yourself?

Here are several ways to restore the health and vitality that are generic to the most basic health technique of all . . . proper breathing!

First, get in the habit of breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Just imagine the foreign matter that gets sucked into the lungs these days when one breathes in through the mouth! The nasal hairs are good at removing the larger particles. That’s what they are for, but they can’t work if you don’t inhale through our nose!

Next, forget this shallow breathing with your upper chest. Practice deep belly breathing every chance you get until it’s the only way you breathe ever. When you inhale through your nose feel your abdomen and lower sides expand outward. As you exhale through your mouth feel your lower abdominal muscles pull inward as far as possible. Fill those lungs and then exhale completely. This is the way nature intended us to breathe. When we do it this way all kinds of great things happen throughout our bodies.

Just one example is the way this kind of breathing helps move food down into the small intestines. If you ever over eat and feel bloated, a session of deep belly breathing can do wonders! Just a couple of minutes worth will usually do the trick!

Finally, deep breathing exercises every morning and sometimes at night too, before bed, if you wish. But morning for sure. This is how it should be done. You may not (most people can’t) be able to hold your breathe a full 70 seconds when you first begin doing these exercises, but believe me, you’ll be able to do that and more after a month or so.

Ezra’s Morning Breathing Exercise

  1. Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor and well apart; hands on your knees.
  2. Breathe in as deeply as you can through the nose, feeling your abdominal muscles and lower back expand outward. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and then slowly exhale through the mouth until the lungs are totally empty.
  3. Breathe normally for a few seconds and then repeat Step 2, only this time hold your breath for 20 seconds.
  4. Breathe normally for a few seconds and then repeat Step 2, only this time hold your breath for 30 seconds.
  5. Breathe normally for a few seconds and then repeat Step 2, only this time hold your breath for 40 seconds or as long as you can up to 40 seconds.
  6. Breathe normally for a few seconds and then repeat Step 2, only this time hold your breath for 50 seconds or as long as you can up to 50 seconds.
  7. Breathe normally for a few seconds and then repeat Step 2, only this time hold your breath for 60 seconds or as long as you can up to 60 seconds.
  8. Breathe normally for a few seconds and then repeat Step 2, only this time hold your breath for 70 seconds or as long as you can up to 70 seconds.

Many people experience a profound feeling of peace and harmony following these exercises, as if they are on some kind of relaxation drug. Some like to sit quietly for a few moments of contemplation; others use this time to offer up a silent prayer of thankfulness for a new day and a new opportunity to experience life and to grow and learn and share. Or to just send healing thoughts of peace and love out into the world.

Over time, it is common to feel an increased level of energy and well being. Perhaps you will see an improvement in your ability to think and reason; heightened sensitivity is also common. The tips of the fingers may also begin to tingle during the breathing exercises once one is able to comfortably hold the breath for 50 seconds or longer.

I personally have worked with and introduced many people to this simple system and have seen profound results over time. Few of us can hold our breaths very long these days, so it may take awhile to achieve the full 70 seconds shown above. Some can eventually hold the breath in for a couple of minutes once their lungs become active again, after so many long years of dormancy.

Why not try this simple system and see for yourself. Once you have done these exercises for a short while, you may never again wish to live without them.

Most sacred writings include a reference to that wondrous event when The Creator breathed the Breath Of Life into the nostrils of the first person and that person then became a living soul.

If you wish to Be, and Be Well, BREATHE!

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