As you begin reading this article you’re concentrating on the text on the page. In the next couple sentences, the average person breathed in and out a few full breath cycles, depending on how fast they read. Breathing is a process controlled by the brain. It’s automatically taking place in the background without us giving it any thought—but interrupt it for more than four minutes and the human organism dies.
For eons, mystics understood that controlling the power of the breath could lead to illumination. Teachers from the East brought specific techniques to harness prana—or the lifeforce—in the breath. The mantra students are taught: “Follow the breath.” That means to sit quietly and observe the steady rhythmic inhalation and exhalation of each breath. The training calms the mind while reducing anxiety in the body. Done perfectly for endless cycles, over years of training, teachers promise it will lead to cosmic realization or enlightenment.
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