Three key elements—what I call “convergences”—create the framework for all breathing methods, styles, and schools. Many breathwork teachers and
practitioners have already been applying them intuitively in their own way, because all the benefits of breathwork depend on these three elements for
- Combining consciousness and breathing
- Combining consciousness and relaxation
- Combining conscious breathing and complete relaxation
1.The First Convergence: Combining Consciousness and Breathing
We are breathing all the time, but most of the time we are completely unconscious of it. The breathing is happening, but our consciousness is focused elsewhere. Our awareness is often pushed and pulled and controlled by random unconscious impulses, miscellaneous forces, and other people. The practice of mindful breathing compensates for this, restoring a certain natural power and balance. When your awareness jumps from one thing to another constantly, your healing energies and creative forces are lost or dissipated. When you bring all your attention to the breathing, your energy begins to accumulate and you develop tremendous personal power. For lack of a better word, “magic” is possible when we bring together consciousness and breathing. For many people, this simple practice is life-changing. As you begin a daily Conscious Breathing practice, you will dramatically increase your internal awareness as well as your situational awareness. Also, your health, well-being, and performance will be enhanced. When you master Conscious Breathing, you will naturally experience more comfort and pleasure, more success and ease—in body and mind, in your intimate relationships, and in your professional life.
2.Second Convergence: Combining Consciousness and Relaxation
Consider this: when you are in your most relaxed state, you are literally sleeping. You actually sleep through the most relaxing moments of your life! You are unconscious in those moments when you are most relaxed, so you have probably never had a waking experience of pure, deep, and total relaxation. You have to get out of the way for your body to relax and rejuvenate itself. Your ordinary consciousness—filled and busy as it is with all its incessant mental activity—interferes in the body’s ability to relax. Thus nature sees to it that you disappear for a while every night. Having you go unconscious seems to be the only way your body can take a break from your head tripping! Slumping on a couch, drinking beer, and watching TV is a very poor substitute for genuine relaxation.
Being wide awake and totally relaxed at the same time is so rare that when it occurs during a breathing session, most people describe it as a peak religious experience, a peace that passes understanding. They describe the experience as bliss or ecstasy, a feeling of pure, causeless joy. They inevitably resort to spiritual or religious terms to describe what is actually a very basic, yet profound human experience. When you master this second convergence in breathwork—bringing together full consciousness and complete relaxation—you touch a place in yourself, you open to a state that all the great masters and saints lived in and lived from. You get a taste of the life lived by the Buddha, Jesus, Lao-tzu, Krishna, and all the other sublime teachers.
3.The Third Convergence: Combining Conscious Breathing and Complete Relaxation
This is a high art and a transformational skill: the merging of peace and power. Master it, and you will discover, experience, and accomplish things that the average person can only dream of. Usually when people breathe in a powerful way, they don’t relax. And when they relax completely, they don’t breathe. The more they breathe, the less they relax; the more they relax, the less they breathe. This is the common dilemma and the normal experience of people who have not mastered the art of breathwork. The idea is to turn it all around so the more you breathe, the more you relax, and the more you relax, the more you breathe. Stop sacrificing one for the other and you will enter the ranks of the great saints and yogis, the famous artists and legendary warriors.
Here we apply the principle of economy: we focus on breathing fully and freely, deeply and powerfully, all while using as little muscular effort or activity as possible. We engage in deliberate relaxation even as we practice breathing deeper, faster, and more powerful breaths. Combining full, free breathing and complete relaxation with great awareness is the secret that leads to the most empowering and enlightening benefits in breathwork. It is the door to what we call peak, flow, or transcendent states. It can be described as an “energized calm” or a “dynamic peace.” You owe it to yourself to master this third and key convergence in breathwork.
The Three Convergence Reminders
- Practicing the first convergence means practicing mindful breathing or Breath Awareness. You’re learning to let the breath breathe you.
- The second convergence is about becoming conscious of the tensions in your body and eliminating unnecessary muscular activity. It’s especially important to relax the accessory breathing muscles.
- The third convergence is about combining powerful breathing and deep relaxation in a conscious and creative way.