I have been using a type of resonant breathing as a relaxation device for some years, and have found it to be very restful. It’s similar to a breath
technique described in yoga practice as Ujjayi Pranayama: partially closing the epiglottis while exhaling and making a subtle hissing sound deep in the throat. http://www.aypsite.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2327 (highly recommended yoga website). To this I would only add “and also while inhaling,” to make the resonance full-circle as in the feline purr.
I’m writing your Institute about this because it seems to point towards your area of expertise and because sometimes it feels a little lonesome out here on the edge, doing something that I think could be useful to others. So please excuse the length of this message!
These days it only takes three or four ‘full circle’ purrs/sighs/groans before I feel a tingling in my fingers and toes, which I interpret to mean that the resonance has traveled to all my extremities via the blood stream.
More info about this below embedded in a description of the “resting in clarity for short moments” as taught by www.greatfreedom.org as an alternative to the less-easy and more disciplined approach, the half-hour meditation:
A recent discussion online about happiness led me to respond as follows:
Instead of ‘happiness’, let’s use Candice O’Denver’s term ‘resting.’
According to her view, everything arises in our awareness/clarity —
all positive-negative-neutral points of view, all emotions, dukkah, whatnot. If we don’t attach to them, they dissolve on their own because they have no independent reality outside pure awareness. (Actually the ‘I’ has no independent reality outside pure awareness, so there is no one to be ‘happy,’ ‘enlightened,’ ‘suffering,’ etc.)
The only thing I would add to Candice’s excellent teaching is that “Resting in clarity” (awareness) can be accessed through ‘the self-arising, resonant breath.’ To explain further:
What physical condition accompanies resting? Watch a dog. When it lies down to rest, it first sighs deeply (perhaps to blow away any loose dust or dirt from in front of its nostrils). Then as it relaxes even more deeply, it begins a resonant, relaxed breath. This resonant breath is something we all do when asleep — in fact it’s the last sound we hear before losing consciousness, as the breath resonates against the dropped soft palate. Also the trachea may vibrate, that stiff, hollow tube that brings air into the lungs. At its most relaxed, the resonant breath produces the snore and, in most cats, the purr. This also vibrates the upper aorta that snuggles up close to the trachea where it enters the heart, and through this contact, transmits the vibration to the bloodstream. That is why, after three or four good purrs (or snores), my fingers and feet begin to tingle pleasantly as the ‘snore’ vibration reaches my extremities.
I identify this tingling sensation as positive feedback telling me that
all lateral tensions in my body have been dissolved by these vibrations.
I described it further to a www.greatfreedom.org trainer as follows:
“It’s all about soothing energy, isn’t it? I access soothing energy on various levels of being — spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, but the main thing for me is not to forget to include the body — that good old body, it just trundles along doing its best for me despite the way I ignore it. When I relax into awareness I check the body, and often I find there’s a tense muscle in one hip, or else some other armoring — lateral tension — that needs soothing. Of all the ways I’ve found to deal with soothing these lateral tensions, the resonant breath works the best because it duplicates the total relaxation of the sleep state — but while I’m still awake to ‘enjoy’ it.
“Sometimes I also add open focus – which I physically interpret as a widening of the eyes, even raising the eyebrows so that I’m not concentrating one-pointedly on something, but releasing the eye-muscle tensions that a tight focus creates.”
Okay, these approaches may seem limiting or overly simplistic, but body states so often impact mental/ emotional states. If I deal with tensions on the physical, the rest of the being takes care of itself.
So I then ask myself, how much relaxation can I learn to tolerate without drifting off into wondering ‘what’s for supper,’ etc. What level should I recognize as “deep enough” to just enjoy and not attempt any deeper relaxations? As a benchmark, I’ve selected the post-orgasmic ‘afterglow’ that usually lasts only a half-hour or so if left unattended. However purring — breathing resonantly into that afterglow — allows it to continue indefinitely, the only limitation being the ‘what’s for supper’s’ that come along and distract me back to my usual ‘set point’ – my operational level of soothing energy to which I’ve become habituated over lo all these many years. So in a sense, to ‘rest more thoroughly than I am habituated to’ requires at least tuning into — and encouraging — the self-arising resonant breath. It’s not so much about making a conscious effort as it is allowing the body to trigger its own releases by encouraging what it does on its own when it rests.
Over these past years I’ve found that I can dissolve armorings easily with the purring breath that resonates the blood stream all the way out to the capillaries in the fingers and toes, dissolving all tensions that block ‘flow.’ What a delight! And for me, it doesn’t complicate the ‘short moments of awareness’ approach, but instead harmonizes well with everything I’ve learned from www.greatfreedom.org. I just don’t want to leave any part of the being behind — neither the body, the mind, the emotions, the spirit.
Let me end with a quote from Candice:
“The Power Is In Awareness
“Awareness has the ultimate sense of humor. And so you know, it’s important to relax and be gentle with yourself. Awareness is in all points of view. You can’t really say that it’s only this or it’s only that. That’s impossible. Awareness can only be talked about in a way that includes everything. In other words, when there is a complete openness of communication between all points of view. So this makes it easy.
“First of all, you don’t have to change. What could be easier than that?…”
Ramon: I’m certainly ‘not about to change’ my interest in accessing soothing energy through self-arising body relaxations. The latter just work too well. (smile) It’s my way of “including everything!”
Here is a “Purring To Nirvana” 3-minute demo video I put up on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvyW3-2QSeQ
And quoting from the Tibetan book “Buddhahood Without Meditation:”
Wishing your illusory self-refreshing pristine awareness embodiment-emanation a festive absorption into the light!