Did you know that how you breathe has a direct effect on how you feel? When the breath is short, shallow chest breathing, it tends to give rise to a sense of agitation, even anxiety. On the other hand, deep, slow, smooth and diaphragmatic breathing induces relaxation and feelings of wellbeing.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it.
Start by noticing how you’re breathing at this moment. Simply notice how it is flowing, whether you’re breathing with your chest or belly; whether the breath is jerky or smooth; and whether the breaths are short or long. At this point, you’re taking a baseline observation as to how you’re breathing.
One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925-1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in Northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally in 1969, came to the United States where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best known work, Living With the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.
"People constantly identify themselves with their thought patterns. Thoughts are virtually actions. To identify yourself with actions is not good. To be caught by the blind rules and injunctions of society is to create a prison for yourself.
You should not brood on past actions. That which has been done, is done. If you want to do it again, do it again. To allow your mind to travel past grooves creates a bad habit that in time becomes part of your life.
You should learn to forgive yourself. Those who do not forgive themselves never forgive others. Forgiveness is the greatest of all virtues."
- Swami Rama in The Essence of Spiritual Life: A Companion Guide for the Seeker