The breath, like creative inspiration, comes of itself. We can consciously influence it, but only in part. Largely, it just flows.
This is one of the great mysteries of human being. Where does this flow come from, where does it go?
This exercise will teach you to notice your breath and how it feels to notice it.
It seems so simple but nothing is more transformational.
Creative Life, Creative Breath
When you were born, the first thing somebody did for you was clear your airways and make sure you were breathing.
Breath and life are intimately connected. To stay alive, we must keep breathing.
Creative breathing is similarly connected to creative living. To stay creatively alive, we must practice creative breathing.
When you breathe in conscious awareness, your mind opens to creative flow
It’s an inter-relationship and it works both ways. You will find that when you move from con-state to create-state, your breath automatically becomes longer, deeper, slower, more even and more conscious.
The simplest form of creative rest is to just stop and take one deep creative breath. And, harnessing mind to breath, say to yourself: “I’m resting now”. Then let words go, training all your attention on the experience of the breath entering and leaving your belly.
The Creative Breathing series here on the blog, and in the Inspiration Meditation book, takes you through a series of exercises that show you how to take advantage of this powerful tool, the core of creative living.
Practice as often as you remember to cultivate your creative power and nourish good health of body and mind.
• TIME & SPACE: To practice your creative breathing practice, it’s a good idea to set aside a quiet place and time, where you won’t be interrupted. Soon, you will be able to breathe this way anywhere, anytime, but to start, find yourself a quiet corner, where you know you won’t be disturbed for at least 20 minutes. Loosen any tight clothing and eliminate any other possible distractions.
•POSTURE: You can choose to lie down, or sit on a comfortable chair, or on the floor. The yogic traditions all emphasize keeping the spine straight for creative breath work. You don’t have to sit in cross-legged or lotus posture, though, unless you like to. Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Just keep spine straight. If you’re sitting or standing, imagine your head rising from the shoulders and allow your shoulders to fall, away from your ears.
• EYES: You can keep your eyes open, or halfway open, if you like, but at the beginning most people find helpful to allow them to close.
This is the simplest and most common of all breathing exercises and the foundation of the other six methods you will be learning in this seven-part series about the creative breath.
This exercise is simply to notice your breath, without making any attempt to influence it. You’re not trying to deepen or expand it, slow it down, or speed it up. You are just going to follow it with your mind.
- Bring your attention to your belly, feeling it rise or expand gently on the in-breath and fall or recede on the out-breath.
- Notice the cycle of inhalation and exhalation, the breathing in and breathing out.
- Notice the moment when exhalation ends and inhalation begins, an almost dimensionless point that you pass through many times each minute of your day, but so rarely acknowledged.
The Wandering Mind
When you begin to consciously notice your breathing, one of the first things you’ll notice is how challenging it can be to stay connected to your breath. Your attention will wander and the place it is most likely to wander to is towards your thoughts, the confabulations of your con-mind.
When this happens – and yes, it will happen, it is in the nature of the mind that it should – just gently bring the attention back to the breath.
- Be with each in-breath for its full duration, be with each out-breath for its full duration.
- Every time you notice your mind has wandered away from the breath, notice what has taken you away, then gently return your attention to your belly, to experiencing the feeling of breath coming in and out. Mindfulness maestro, Jon Kabat Zinn calls this “riding the waves of your own breathing”.
- Regardless of how often it happens, the practice is to simply bring your attention back, without judgement or irritation. This refocussing of attention is itself the practice.
- Practice this whenever you think of it, as often as you can.
- Whenever something happens in life that makes you feel stressed, anxious or upset, move immediately into conscious breathing. No matter what’s going on, no matter how you feel about it, just follow the breath.
- Notice how doing this changes your feelings in that moment.
- On a larger scale, over time, notice how regularly practicing creative breathing changes your work, and your life, and your consciousness of what you’re creating.
Notice how the technique is both utterly simple [what could be easier than consciously breathing in and breathing out?] and considerably challenging [what is more terrifying than the human mind exposed to itself?]
But forget all such thoughts.
Just follow the breath, in and out.
- The Creative Breathwork Series: Beat Block & Foster Flow. #2: Begin With Breathing Out
- The Creative Breathwork Series: Beat Block & Foster Flow. #3: Counting The Breaths
- The Creative Breathwork Series: Beat Block & Foster Flow #4: Bellows Breathing
- The Creative Breathwork Series: Beat Block & Foster Flow #5: 4-7-8 Breathing
- The Creative Breathwork Series: Beat Block & Foster Flow #6: Between The Words Breathing
- The Creative Breathwork Series: Beat Block & Foster Flow #7: Inspiration Meditation