As I begin the day with the daily practice of the Sudarshan Kriya breathing technique, random thoughts meander through my mind as I try to rearrange and fix situations in my brain. A sudden thought flashes through my mind: What if this is the last time I took a breath? Do I know when my last breath will be? I don’t! With that thought, a serious awareness and a deep appreciation of the basic act of breathing happened. A sense of gratitude dawned just for the fact that I was alive and could breathe, the simple act of breathing was elevated to the most precious.
As I focused on breathing in and out and became aware of the life energy pulsate and flow, all the other thoughts evaporated and vanished like they never existed and my mind felt transparent and clear. A deep connection with the one who lives inside of me was established and the space between each breath increased and brought spurts of well-being that I wanted to hold on to longer and longer.
Ending with the alternate nostril breathing, all I could focus on was a faint sensation on the tip of my nose and the space between my inhalation and exhalation.
I don’t mean to sound snobbish but I can confidently say that any or all of the millennial problems can be sorted through just the basics of breath and meditation. It will need patience but it will pay off. It’s clean, powerful, life-enhancing and the only things you will lose are your stress and negativity, and the only side effect will be a lasting, deep feeling of well-being.
Let's start with the fear of becoming irrelevant, something I find most professionals face. Without a doubt, the most relevant thing on this planet is the present moment. If you have the ability and mindfulness to live in the present it’s pretty hard for you to become irrelevant. The one thing that’s always with you in the present is your breath and breathing with awareness makes you live in the present!
After climate change, mental health is the biggest concern for humans. Everyone advises us to think positive but we have never been taught how to handle negative emotions and how to get a hold of ourselves when they unsuspectingly engulf us. For every emotion that rises in your mind there is a corresponding rhythm to your breath and to be able to use your breath to get to your mind and transform emotions is what the rhythmic breathing technique, Sudarshan Kriya, is all about. Basic, but life-transforming!
The need to achieve creates greed and ambition that are counter-productive to your goals. For an arrow to move forward with speed and accuracy you need to pull it back first. Says Sri Sri, the silence and rest and intuition that result from meditation are key to accomplishment. It’s like creating a bank on either side for your energies to be directed towards your goals. Ambition can burn you up if you don’t know how to dive deep into the cooler recesses of your being. And greed can lead to unethical practices, which catch up with you in the long run.
Anxiety in the face of the pandemic, and otherwise, has increased stress levels that cloud our clarity of thought, which is the basis of our words and actions. Learning how to dissipate anxiety and keep our minds clear is key to creativity and success in any field.
Social media — A single post can mess with your mind if you allow it. It can give you an inferiority complex, anxiety and FOMO. Meditation balances your mind and puts things into perspective easily. It makes you see the temporary effect of social media, grounds you and gives you the ability to focus on yourself rather than comparing yourself to others and losing balance.
Suddenly, I am reading about the research on the vagus nerve. Activating the vagus nerve through deep breathing — ideally six breaths a minute — slows down the heart rate and regulates many critical aspects of the body and mind. And technologies like a chest band and wrist strap today can make it happen! Hey, wait a minute haven’t I been doing this for years now? And, the elderly probably knew this eons ago without counting or strapping. My experiences might not be so dramatic everyday but they are different just like the sunrise. It’s not the experience I hold on to but the connection to the unseen is what I’ve learnt. I don’t think of how pranayama is activating my vagus nerve or what it’s doing to my heart rate or if it’s calming down my organs or expanding my lung capacity — maybe I don’t know better but I just enjoy the practice a 100 per cent and the subtle state it takes me too.
As a new day dawns and the sun's rays penetrate the darkness of the night, I hear the chirping of birds, open my eyes and welcome the new day with a readiness to deal with whatever comes my way. The brickbats will come with the bouquets but I know that I have the ability to go back to that space and come back renewed again and again.
(The writer is a faculty with the Art of Living foundation and a celebrity fashion stylist.)