More carefree approach to pranayama?

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More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby se3ker » Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:48 pm

I have lurked these forums a bit and I notice that everyone likes to time and record their pranayama breath. I find this to be helpful to put yourself into a targetted rhythm, but to continue counting in a prolonged session can be very distracting.

I want to propose an alternate approach:

Simply breath as deeply and prolonged as you comfortably can without any counting. Keep your attention on the movements and sensations of your breath, and don't regard any other thoughts, emotions, or sensations. When your mind wanders, return your attention back to the movement and sensation of your breathing, making sure you're pushing your breathing to be as deep as comfortably possible.

This is pretty much the modern approach to breath meditation that many people do. This way, you are achieving both the benefits of pranayama since you are extending your breath, as well as the benefits of dhyana. Perhaps the dhyana benefits won't be as much as a pure dhyana meditation session, but it should still be very helpful for your concentration.

I want to know what you guys think are the downsides of taking this approach? Because on the other hand, I do like the more rigorous approach of timing and counting your exact in-breath and out-breath so that you can neatly track your progress, but I feel like that is literally the only benefit.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:18 pm

That's a different practice, and one often recommended ads part of the preliminary work of pranayama. Nothing wrong with it at all.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby se3ker » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:48 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:That's a different practice, and one often recommended ads part of the preliminary work of pranayama. Nothing wrong with it at all.


I see, thanks.

Slightly off-topic, but can I ask you if you think pranayama done by beginners is dangerous for the body and mind? I have had several experienced yoga practitioners tell me that it's very dangerous for me to be doing pranayama for more than 5 minutes at a time, let alone the 1 hour+ sessions that I have scheduled for myself.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Gnosomai Emauton » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:53 pm

I don't speak from deep experience here but, as I understand it, pranayama isn't a breathing exercise, per se, but rather a utilization of specifically focused and timed breathing as a tool to control the flow of prana. So, the obvious downside to me would be missing this goal entirely by refocusing my attention on the goals of breathing meditations rather than prana activation.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:22 pm

Pranayama isn't dangerous. However, SUCCESS in Pranayama can be quite dangerous for the physical & astral bodies of the unprepared, and I can't think of any reason to do it unless you plan to succeed.

In any case, start easy and work up slowly by all means, don't start at an hour! That takes months for most people to build up to. Start with 10-15 minutes. Remember never to strain. And if possible work under tye direct supervision of someone who knows the subject from experience.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:31 am

I'm home from an out-of-state trip now, and have a little more to say.

It is very difficult IMHO to make recommendations about this to someone from a distance. One might think this is an area where a forum could be useful to give "the right formula," etc.; but it isn't, because advice has to be pretty individual. Each person's body and psyche have different tolerances, given where they are starting, how they are currently living their lives, etc.

I'm going to post below a working protocol I once wrote for someone I didn't know, living at a distance, with no chance for me to observe either the practice or the results on the person. Therefore, it is pretty conservative. My goal was to give something that I was pretty sure wouldn't cause harm, because it was moderate enough that almost anybody's body and psyche would adjust to it, and built-in safe-guards would give space to back off. Others could work more ambitiously than this, but there isn't any serious reason to push it harder.

Kundalini isn't a competitive sport. It isn't about the numbers. It's about finding where your psychical and psychic comfort zone for starting, and then, as the alchemists say, to increase the heat slowly. Think slow-cooker, not boiling or microwave.

Here's the recommendation I made:


After physical relaxation, sit in a balanced physical position and witness (with no attempt to control it) your breath going in and out. Do this especially by noticing the sensations at the end of your nostrils (breath going in is cool; breath going out is hot). Do this for no more than 10-15 minutes at a time, once or twice a day, for three to six months before adding anything to it.

After at least three months, one of your practice sessions can switch to the three-fold or four-fold breath. (This is not alternate nostril breathing.) On a fixed timing XYZ that is comfortable and easy for you (say, six seconds each), the four-fold breath is: in for XYZ, hold in for XYZ, out for XYZ, hold out for XYZ. The three-fold breath drops the "hold out." These two produce different results, and it might be worth seeing what different results they produce for you. (Thus, with 6-second cycles, the three-fold breath gets the nickname, "The 6-6-6 breath.")

After at least six months of doing no more than what I have written above, start alternate nostril breathing exercises, modelled first on the four-fold breath. Stay at one pace for at least a week or two before stepping it up, and never increase it at a pace that gives a sense of strain or physical stress. For the first year, don't go past half an hour at once sitting.


FWIW.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby se3ker » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:56 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:I'm home from an out-of-state trip now, and have a little more to say.

It is very difficult IMHO to make recommendations about this to someone from a distance. One might think this is an area where a forum could be useful to give "the right formula," etc.; but it isn't, because advice has to be pretty individual. Each person's body and psyche have different tolerances, given where they are starting, how they are currently living their lives, etc.

I'm going to post below a working protocol I once wrote for someone I didn't know, living at a distance, with no chance for me to observe either the practice or the results on the person. Therefore, it is pretty conservative. My goal was to give something that I was pretty sure wouldn't cause harm, because it was moderate enough that almost anybody's body and psyche would adjust to it, and built-in safe-guards would give space to back off. Others could work more ambitiously than this, but there isn't any serious reason to push it harder.

Kundalini isn't a competitive sport. It isn't about the numbers. It's about finding where your psychical and psychic comfort zone for starting, and then, as the alchemists say, to increase the heat slowly. Think slow-cooker, not boiling or microwave.

Here's the recommendation I made:


After physical relaxation, sit in a balanced physical position and witness (with no attempt to control it) your breath going in and out. Do this especially by noticing the sensations at the end of your nostrils (breath going in is cool; breath going out is hot). Do this for no more than 10-15 minutes at a time, once or twice a day, for three to six months before adding anything to it.

After at least three months, one of your practice sessions can switch to the three-fold or four-fold breath. (This is not alternate nostril breathing.) On a fixed timing XYZ that is comfortable and easy for you (say, six seconds each), the four-fold breath is: in for XYZ, hold in for XYZ, out for XYZ, hold out for XYZ. The three-fold breath drops the "hold out." These two produce different results, and it might be worth seeing what different results they produce for you. (Thus, with 6-second cycles, the three-fold breath gets the nickname, "The 6-6-6 breath.")

After at least six months of doing no more than what I have written above, start alternate nostril breathing exercises, modelled first on the four-fold breath. Stay at one pace for at least a week or two before stepping it up, and never increase it at a pace that gives a sense of strain or physical stress. For the first year, don't go past half an hour at once sitting.


FWIW.


Thank you, Jim.

I have been meditating with breath observation on average of 30min a day for the past year. Once in a while I put in a couple 1 hour sessions in. Lately I have been averaging 1.5 hours a day.

I just discovered Crowley's yoga lecture, and pranayama. I did his three-fold breath, and found it to give me some results while being very easy to maintain my concentration. Usually in meditation I feel a lot of boredom and restlessness, but with pranayama I didn't feel that at all. So I was very excited to keep pushing, until I ran into the block of chest pains, probably due to unconscious straining and improper breathing.

You are recommending me a very conservative approach, and I see the merit in that. I am a person who loves to push myself when it comes to spiritual practices, mainly because I have not experienced any huge consequences yet and I have also yet to see any results that are in-my-face obvious.

But there is a lot of people out there speaking of the dangers of pranayama, and I would be foolish not to consider that. I want to weigh that against my desire for spiritual progress.

I want to do 15 minutes, twice a day, of something like 7-in, 14-out, no retention. I will listen to my body if my chest pain worsens. I will not strain. Someone told me I am putting myself in tremendous danger just from this seemingly benign practice routine, both on a physical and a spiritual level. Am I really putting myself in danger?
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:33 am

Overall, what you just wrote sounds good.

To answer your last question: If you are experiencing strain that is causing adverse physical consequences, then, yes, you are putting your physical well-being in jeopardy. And if you are putting your physical well-being in jeopardy, then you are putting your spiritual well-being in jeopardy. (You need this body to do the work you are undertaking in this life-time, and it needs to be capable of the job.)
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby se3ker » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:42 am

That makes sense. Thank you.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby gerry456 » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:36 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:Pranayama isn't dangerous. However, SUCCESS in Pranayama can be quite dangerous for the physical & astral bodies of the unprepared, and I can't think of any reason to do it unless you plan to succeed.

In any case, start easy and work up slowly by all means, don't start at an hour! That takes months for most people to build up to. Start with 10-15 minutes. Remember never to strain. And if possible work under tye direct supervision of someone who knows the subject from experience.

Jim what are the hallmarks of being physically and astrally unprepared?
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2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:42 am

There could be many. One of them is to start too soon - the astral body doesn't hit the same maturity level as the physical body at puberty until the 18-22 age range (and there are significant brain behavior changes that stabilize around age 25 that are quite helpful if things get a little out of hand). For the body, it should be in reasonable basic health (you don't "fantastic health," just basic good health), with strong, reasonably stable nervous system in particular. For the psyche, basic sound psychological health (not "don't have any issues" level, just basic soundness). Emotional reactivity levels can be highly reflective of astral strength, but direct work with building the astral body is enormously helpful - probably part of why A.'.A.'. requires solid, experienced, skilled performance in astral work (1=10) before the level where pranayama is a primary object of attention (2=9).

For example.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby gerry456 » Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:45 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:There could be many. One of them is to start too soon - the astral body doesn't hit the same maturity level as the physical body at puberty until the 18-22 age range (and there are significant brain behavior changes that stabilize around age 25 that are quite helpful if things get a little out of hand). For the body, it should be in reasonable basic health (you don't "fantastic health," just basic good health), with strong, reasonably stable nervous system in particular. For the psyche, basic sound psychological health (not "don't have any issues" level, just basic soundness). Emotional reactivity levels can be highly reflective of astral strength, but direct work with building the astral body is enormously helpful - probably part of why A.'.A.'. requires solid, experienced, skilled performance in astral work (1=10) before the level where pranayama is a primary object of attention (2=9).

For example.


Makes sense but AC says in Liber O, in reference to Liber E;

Before entering upon any of these practices
, (which includes astral skrying and Rising on planes) the student should be in good health, and have attained a fair mastery of Asana, Pranayama and Dharana. i.e. astral fortification is done after extensive Liber E asana/pranayama practice.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Oct 27, 2015 4:12 pm

"Fair mastery" doesn't contemplate the kind of successful results. It contemplates having become familiar with it by practice and some actual practice.
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Re: More carefree approach to pranayama?

Postby gerry456 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:47 am

Yeh I see, so in other words someone needs to be refining their astral body via rising on the planes and having their astral desire-body perform banishing/invoking rituals and along with an asana regime, all this should diminish emotional reactivity? In short the astral body is the desire body flitting from here to there according to circumstances in Assiah?

Also what I've found is that Rising on the planes leads to "unblocking" of body centres ie it's the same process but just a different way of doing it.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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