Non-Separation and the Breath


A few years ago a story of the consciousness of interconnection unfolded right before my eyes.  This happened from a place of non-separation, or in other words a real sense of oneness between people and nature.  It is a simple story really – one of three men and a tree.

Two of the men were leaders within their Balinese community.  One man had cut down a tree without permission from his community village.  You see in Bali one must obtain the permission of the entire village before cutting down a tree.  The sense of interconnectedness with nature and among themselves pervades the Balinese culture.

These two leaders were discussing – with tears flowing down their faces – what kind of consequences the man who had cut down the tree must face.  He had apparently done this before, most likely for carving art pieces to sell, so the discussion was a serious one.  I never found out what they did decide, but I did get to sit with one of the leaders and share meditation and mutual discussion about cultures translated through his brother.  I thanked him for this beautiful living example of  deep awareness on how each interconnected being or life form intimately affects another.

How is it that we forget that we are not separate from anything or anyone when our  breath tells us that we are constantly intimately connected.  We share the very air we breathe with all living things.  My dear friend and lifelong mentor, Richard MillerMiller, Ph.D of iRest  (grounded and concrete tools to come back home to a place of non-separation and well being) spoke eloquently on non-separation at the Summer of Peace through The Shift Network recently.  He emphasized that the ultimate healing for all humans lies first in our sense of separation from ourselves and secondly the “other”, or the world outside of ourselves.

In a recent class I was privileged to facilitate – Decrease Anxiety, Indulge Inner Peace – I remember saying that I believe the core of anxiety comes from when we go away from or leave behind our deep purpose in life, which comes from our wholeness.  This results in feeling a sense of separation.  This very sense of separation activates anxiety.

Our strong innate imprinting to belong and to survive  as we grow up into adults often times takes us away from the very sense of already belonging/deep interconnection that is a gift we are given at birth.  This leave taking from our  feeling of harmony with ourselves and life itself brings us to “war” within and without.

Deep abiding inner peace and equanimity brings us home to the state of non-separation, or as Richard says “non-dual” state of being.  What better tool to resonate with than the breath to remind us over and over and over that we are an integral part of the whole and never separate.  Inhale connected to exhale sharing with an abundant circle of life in the moment.  When we resonate this peaceful place those around us will attune to the same state.

Be the change you wish to see in the world….come back home.


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Heart Focused Breathing

At the recent Breathwork Summit put on by The Shift Network I was extremely privileged to hear many gifted and wise breath “experts” share their particular expertise and stories.  It was actually a delight!

Among those who spoke were Deborah Rozman and Rollin McCraty of HeartMath.  Since it is only days before Valentines Day I thought it appropriate to share some of their findings and practices here on BreathingSpaces.

The bottom line is that the heart rhythm is affected by our breath.  The heart then sends neural information to our brain on how to react based on how we are breathing.  The more shallow and faster the breath the more emotional response.  As we continue in the “fight or flight” or sympathetic nervous system response pattern the hearts more chaotic rhythm will send more input to the brain that then keeps our breathing stuck in the quick and shallow pattern.  As you can see this could be a vicious cycle!

If our heart rhythm is out of sync, as happens when our breathing rate is faster and more shallow when we are under stress of any kind, then we are out of what HeartMath calls “co-herence”.  This heart rhythm of co-herence is one that is natural and in balanced alignment with all systems of our body, mind and emotions.  It turns on the parasympathetic system – our natural restful state.

Here is a Heart Focused Breathing practice that you can use in times when stress hits and you feel your breath rhythm change:

1)  Focus your attention in the heart.  (you can place a hand there as well)

2)  Pretend the breath is going in and out of the heart.  Count to 5 with each inhale and 5 with each exhale. (A rhythm of co-herence)

3)  While you are doing this breath rhythm, focusing on breathing in and out of the heart, bring a positive feeling like gratitude, appreciation, and compassion –  or imagine a beautiful scene out in nature that makes you feel good.

In a short period of time you will come back into a heart rhythm of co-herence through focusing your breathing towards the heart. All systems will come back into alignment.  This only takes minutes and can be very effective.  (HeartMath also has a biofeedback device called EmWave that can actually show you when you come back into a smooth and life enhancing rhythm)

On this Valentine’s Day share a heart-focused breath with someone you love!



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