Breathwork as a Pathway to Samadhi

After conducting my last breathwork class, I realized that the #1 reason why I love breathwork is because it can give the practitioner a taste of samadhi in a very short time. Samadhi is, generally, a state that only seasoned meditators experience after many years of practice and a whole lot of grace. In Hinduism, this is the ultimate goal of yoga – the final stage of meditation – at which union with the divine is reached. For many of us, this state will only occur at death.

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are two main types of samadhi: “with seed” and “without seed”.

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What is Breathwork Therapy?

Pranayama (control of prana or life force energy via the breath), is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as such has very ancient healing roots. However, the more modern version of therapeutic breathwork was born in the 1960s out of LSD research. When the government banned LSD, Stanislov Grof turned his attention to something that couldn’t be outlawed: breathing. Grof went on to trademark “Holotropic Breathwork“, a non-drug alternative to reaching altered states of consciousness.

Today, there are numerous styles of therapeutic breathwork. At the core, all breathwork therapy has benefits similar to other “psychedelic therapies” (such as Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, and LSD) in that, as oxygen builds up in the blood, the breather experiences a mild sort of trip with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. Types of experiences usually fall into one or more of several categories:  sensory, biographic, perinatal, and yogic sleep states.

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Stimulating the Vagus Nerve Using the Breath

“Do you have a sensitive nervous system that adversely impacts your health? By developing an understanding of the workings of your vagus nerve you may find it possible to work with your nervous system rather than feel trapped when it works against you.” — Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The vagus (Latin for ‘wanderer’) nerve is the longest and most complex of the 12 cranial nerves. This nerve runs from the brain stem through the face, neck, thorax, heart, gastrointestinal tract, the bladder, and even branches down into the pelvis! The vagus nerve is heavily involved in the parasympathetic side of the nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate, and helps with calmness, relaxation, and digestion. Vagal response also affects defecation, urination, and sexual arousal.

In people with fatigue, food sensitivities, anxiety, gut problems, brain fog, etc…the vagus nerve is almost always at play.
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Memorial Day 2016

On this day when many have given their actual lives to fulfill their karmic destinies [read about Arjuna’s dharma as a warrior in the Bhagavad Gita], I decided I should start blogging about the things that have helped me overcome (or at least manage) some of the cards I’ve been dealt in this lifetime — as part of my service to humanity. Perhaps this small step will push me into writing that book so many astrologers and psychics have told me I’m destined to write! Lol

I will outline the ways that have helped me here and go into each of them in more detail in the following weeks. I will list them in the order in which they appeared in my life:

  1. A Burning Desire to Know the Truth of Reality
  2. The 12 Steps (or “Street Vedanta”)
  3. Service to Others
  4. Diet
  5. Yoga
  6. Meditation
  7. Pranayama / Breathwork
  8. Self Love
  9. Energy Healing
  10. Astrology
  11. Surrender
  12. Human Design

STAY TUNED! This could be good… ;-P