Breath is not just the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. For different levels of thought and emotion that you go through, your breath takes on different types of patterns. When you are angry, peaceful, happy or sad, your breathe goes through subtle changes. Whichever way you breathe, that is the way you think. Whichever way you think, that is the way you breathe.
The breath can be used as a tool to do many things with the body and the mind. Pranayam is the science where, by consciously breathing in a particular way, the very way you think, feel, understand and experience life can be changed.
If I ask you to watch your breath, which is the most common practice people do these days, you think you are watching the breath, but you are only able to notice the sensations caused by the movement of air. It is like, if someone touches your hand, you think you know the touch of the other person, but actually you only know the sensations generated within your body; you do not know how the other person feels.
Breath is like the hand of the Divine. You don’t feel it. It is not the sensations caused by the air. This breath that you do not experience is referred to as koorma nadi. It is a string which ties you with this body – an unbroken string that goes on and on. If I take away your breath, you and your body will fall apart because the being and the body are bound by the koorma nadi. This is a big deception. There are two, but they are pretending to be one. It is like marriage – they are two, but when they come out they pretend to be one. There are two people here, the body and being, two diametrically opposite ones, but they pretend that they are one.
If you travel through the breath, deep into yourself, to the deepest core of the breath, it will take you to that point where you are actually tied to the body. Once you know where and how you are tied, you can untie it at will. Consciously, you can shed the body as effortlessly as you would shed your clothes. If you know where your body is tied, you can very clearly hold it at a distance. When you want to drop it, you can just drop it consciously. Life becomes very different.
When somebody willfully sheds the body completely, we say this is mahasamadhi. This is what is generally referred to as mukti, or ultimate liberation. It is a great sense of equanimity where there is no difference between what is inside the body and what is outside the body. The game is up.