Breath

29 02 2008

Breath seems extremely important to many spiritual experiences. Breathing correctly is a core teaching in many spiritual disciplines. A practice of meditation will almost always begin with calm, deep, regular breathing. In most churches, although breath is not focussed upon, singing often plays a significant part of worship, and it’s difficult to sing without breath.

This begs the question; Are spiritual experiences connected with breathing?  I remember reading a long time ago, and I’m very vague about the details,  about a theory that spiritual experiences are somehow caused by an increased supply of oxygen to the brain. I’m not so sure that I believe this. If the theory were true why don’t athletes, or people in the gym, experience lots of spiritual moments.

What I do know is true is my own experiences of meditative breathing. When I consciously take long, deep breaths I certainly feel different. I often feel a warm peaceful glow in my chest, a calmness in my arms and legs, and strength in my back. Other times I might feel a tingling up my spine and over my scalp.

Is it the breath or my focussed attention that brings on these feelings?