Beyond the physical body exists energy, beyond energy exists the mind, beyond the mind exists consciousness, beyond consciousness exists Superconsciousness.
Even the Bible implies that man was given consciousness and life through the breath: “The Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, he became a living soul.” (Gen 2:10). This is a symbolic expression of the process of materialisation of matter and life together through prana and consciousness.
Modern scientists are discovering that there is an energy link between the physical and psychic bodies. They have arrived at the conclusion that energy or pranic force is convertible into material force and the material force is convertible into pranic force. So Science has come to the conclusion that every existing thing is a composite structure of energy and matter.
In yogic texts, breathing is considered to be a very important process because it is the most vital means of absorbing prana (vital life energy) into the body. In Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmana Upanishad & Maitri Upanishad, the breath is referred to as the vehicle of Cosmic Consciousness.
Prana in Sanskrit denotes movement, a force in constant movement, like a vibration moving to & fro without any interception. There are 2 types of prana – the Cosmic prana which is very subtle and can only be perceived by the infinite mind whereas the individual prana related to the body is grosser. It was said that prana emanates from the unmanifest reality known as hiranyagarbha, the cosmic womb, then it manifests on the physical level as individual existence. Hence prana not only means life, it means existence as well. By concentrating on the pranic flow, one can experience the existence of supreme consciousness.
The ancient yogis knew about this truth and through intense spiritual practices, they were able to define mind and consciousness by becoming receptive to the subtler vibrations in the universe. The more sensitive their awareness became, the more subtle vibrations they were able to perceive.
Our mind is considered as a form of matter which operates at a higher energy level or vibration. The more our mind is absorbed in the material world, the grosser it becomes and the lesser the awareness can function. By becoming aware of the breath and the flow of prana, we attune the mind to more subtle vibrations. This understanding forms the basic principle of tranta and modern science which states that matter, energy and consciousness are convertible and reconvertible.
The Eastern philosophy believes that it is every man’s destiny is to have Atma Anubhuti, the experience of the Universal Spirit. In order to have that experience, the mind which functions and perceives the external world through 5 senses has to be finetuned. The mind has to become so concentrated and one-pointed that it is completely still without the subtlest wavering. The moment the mind stops, the breath is also suspended. The consciousness and prana can then move out of the individual range of experience into the infinite.
The crux is we need to develop our vehicle of perception i.e. the mind. To do that, our body-mind system needs preparation. Hence, the ancient yogis developed different practices to prepare the body to realise the potential energy operating in the body, then realise the potential energy of the mind, and finally realise the inherent consciousness in both.
In Shiva Sutras, one of the oldest scriptures (at least 10,000 years) ever discovered clearly states that breath is the key to experience Cosmic Consciousness. Shiva, the first enlightened master who walked on planet earth, said that “just before the breath goes up, it touches your Being (inner consciousness) as breathing is under the control of Atman (Eternal Spirit)”. There is a gap between incoming and outgoing breaths as well as between outgoing and incoming breath. This pause is called the neutral zone and if we are able to go deep into the space between the 2 breaths, we experience the Cosmic Consciousness. In the first neutral zone, we are infused with energy while in the second neutral zone, new intelligence in a form of message about life is added to us. Every moment, we are flooded with energy and intelligence i.e. constantly the matter and energy are dancing in our inner space. We just have to be aware and be comfortable in the thoughtless gaps.
Buddha promoted this one technique called Vipassana which is the whole essence of Buddhism. With this one technique, he created at least 10,000 enlightened beings during his time. The whole Tibetan Buddhism and certain parts of Asia is about this technique. The Tibetans have done the most research in spirituality and contributed so much to the inner science.
I remembered my master, Paramahamsa Nithyananda once shared that if Existence were to take away all meditation techniques on planet earth but allows him to keep only one technique alive, it would be the breath technique that he would keep alive because this technique will continue to produce enlightened beings on planet earth.
In essence, if we work on our breath, we straight away work on our mind. As the mind is too subtle to work on directly, working with the breath is the right gateway to experience Cosmic Consciousness. Every moment, Existence has created an auto-mechanism for every one to experience Cosmic Consciousness, we just need to be relaxed in restful awareness in the gaps between breaths. If you are seeking to experience the Ultimate, working with breath is said to be the easiest path to reach enlightenment. 🙂