Pranic Meditation: Conscious Breathing Tunes Our Whole Being
Dec 02, 2015 02:06AM
● By Urgyan Zangpo
Human existence can be quite frustrating. Talking about suffering isn’t exactly popular, but the point is to relieve it. The word “meditate” originally meant “to remedy”. Meditation practice contains a vast wealth of healing remedies, across which certain themes are easily recognized, including breath awareness. The breath is an important element of meditation practice in all yogic traditions, and often of central importance. Let’s explore what we mean by meditation and pranic energy.
Our well-being is highly limited by two contracted mental patterns that we often operate from—agitation, anxiety and distraction, on the one hand, and depletion, deficiency and depression, on the other. These easily translate into shallow breathing patterns, physical distress and illness, as well as energetic exhaustion and/or speediness. Since our whole being is affected, trying to just relax and focus the mind when our body, breath and energy are quite unstable can be ineffective and simply more frustrating.
Our mind-body-spirit is fundamentally an integrated instrument that deeply wants to harmonize its different dimensions, like the strings of a well-tuned guitar. These include a physical embodiment, a radiant energetic body, consciousness, a psychic dimension capable of meditative awareness, and spiritual realization. These are expressions of a great chain of being, of which the physical body is only the most obvious level. We long for the joy and satisfaction of resonating across the chain, feeling more whole. There is a common thread that connects these dimensions—they are all energetic expressions of our life-force. An energy-based, embodied form of meditation helps us fine tune and better play our whole instrument.
Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning “life-force”, which is the principle of life and consciousness, and the breath of life. The living universe vibrates with pranic life-force in an unending energy matrix. Prana often operates on a low level or as a hidden resource, until it is cultivated with conscious breathing. Prana(a)yama is a yogic practice of conscious breathing that unblocks prana so the vital currents of energy can flow freely. Life-force revitalizes the physical body, lights up the subtle energetic body, and infuses consciousness with peace and clarity. This makes prana an eminently effective tool for meditation, which is simply how we come to know ourselves intimately. The classic yogic approach to meditation first steadies the outermost layer of body and breath, and then enriches the system with pranic life-force. Pranayama and meditation are integral practices of a yogic approach to life. Yoga offers us both the means and the goal of the inner journey to the spirit.
A pranic-based meditation brings vitality to the common problems of depletion and agitation encountered in meditation, including lethargy, boredom, frustration, distraction and confusion about whether we are practicing correctly. Note that these are all devitalized states. We are often so devitalized from everyday stress that, when prana infuses us, we immediately brighten, radiate well-being and shine with happiness. Prana provides the subtle inspiration to do so. Life longs for full expression. What we want is to be more fully present—to embody an unwavering steadiness across transformation and development. Meditative awareness combines an energized presence and a relaxed openness—influences that invite and integrate us into their embrace. Prana is our aliveness.
Conscious breathing awakens the subtle radiant body and opens consciousness so that our energy and awareness dance together. This makes pranic meditation effective for conscious transformation. In this vein, meditation becomes a dynamic relaxation imbued with intensified energetic presence, deep reflective awareness and spiritualization of experience. A pranic-energy approach to meditation gathers up, harnesses and intensifies the passion needed for human evolution. Prana becomes the enthusiasm and subtle creative force required to awaken.
As we surrender to the power of conscious energetic presence, our perceptions, thoughts and emotions become friends. Practice becomes understandable and implementable. The subtle inner arts reveal themselves, and vital force itself teaches us. The more we practice conscious being, the more we become conscious.
A meditative way of life expands the depth and breadth of its themes. It becomes a way of being that is curious and exploratory, creatively playful, and a wealth of healing capabilities and qualitative enrichment. It is a discerning appreciation and efficacy, sensitivity and tenderness; an individuation journey of transitioning across growth levels; and unfolding self-transcendence, joyous enthrallment and unshakable stability within life’s flow. A meditative way of life can be an all-encompassing vision of reality’s value and meaning, fullness and completeness; holistic integration; and the coming to light of one’s spirituality. These become living experience, on and off the cushion yoga mat, not mere theory and ideals, however noble. In other words, we can consciously embody spirituality as integrated mind-body-spirit.
Urgyan currently leads four weekly pranic meditation groups in New Preston, New Milford and Brookfield, as well as in Ridgefield, where he is a founding partner of MindBodySpirit: Psychotherapy and Healing Arts. Connect at [email protected] or 203-770-2329.