The Breath is the Horse, the Mind is the Rider

A few months ago, I read a book by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and he was talking about using vocal sounds to achieve a meditative state.  One comment in particular seemed really relevant to me.  He said a common phrase in learning meditation techniques from the master teachers is that "the breath is the horse, and the mind is the rider".

Why is this relevant?  For me, because I had discovered earlier about the brainwave hertz and how they reflected our mental states and could be altered to produce states of relaxation.  Second because between the brain, the heart and the breath, the only one that any of us can control consciously is the breath.  Consciously slowing down the breathing is also a common technique for coping with stress and anxiety.  Also, the breath, the mind and the heart are designed to function together. So, consciously slowing down the breathing will also have an effect on the the other two, which will ultimately lead to a release of stress.  Adjusting breathing will also help to adjust the brainwaves to a lower frequency and slow down the heartbeat.

I have personally found that just focusing on slowing down the breath to work fairly well by itself.  However, I decided to combine the recordings with the binaural beats with conscious breathing and the relaxation response technique (described here).  For me, this has worked really well.

If you'd like to try it, here's what I did:

1. Pick one of the Binaural Beat recordings from the sounds page.

2.  Find a comfortable upright position.  It's important to give the diaphragm enough room to really help the lungs to flow. Sitting on the edge of a chair works well with feet flat and back straight.  There's more info. here, as well as alternate sitting positions.

3.  Focus on the breath.  Breathe deeply through the nose. When you breathe in let your belly expand fully, when you breathe out let your stomach contract a bit even with a gentle squeeze in the low abdomen.  Eventually, I usually develop a deep, slow rhythm and can feel the air pass by my nose on the in and out breath.  I feel that getting into this rhythm helps my mind to get into the zone of relaxation and my body to switch over to a sort of "autopilot" mode.  

4.  When you breath out, mentally say the word "one", or any other one syllable word you choose, for example "love, grace, peace,.. etc."  (This will help to train the mind to maintain a single point of focus.) On the inhale allow your mind to be blank, if thoughts come in, no worries...just keep on.

This is a big key for eliminating stress.  I noticed in my most stressed states that my mind was jumping around from thought to thought.  I feel in my case that this also caused a lot of stress unconsciously in the body. I've learned  that by training my mind and LEARNING to RELAX my body has benefitted too! It's a process for me though, there is no finish line.

4(b).  Another option is to sing on the exhale.  Sing Ahhhhh... and let your stress and thoughts go. On the inhale allow your mind to be blank, if thoughts come in, no worries...just keep on.

In thirty minutes or so, you might feel like this:
(sometimes, takes an hour or more.... repeat daily.)

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