Cleansing with the Breath: A simple Release method

For a person of unsoddened mind, unassaulted awareness, abandoning merit and evil, wakeful,
There is no danger or fear
-Translated by Thanissaro Bhukkhu

Awareness and Release are really the same thing. As awareness grows, we become more and more aware of our patterns and conditioning, and this helps us let go. And as we let go, we become lighter and more aware.

in flight
Creative Commons License photo credit: J. Tegnerud

Releasing is something we all understand, but it’s not something that is always easy to put in practice. Intellectually, we know that we can allow, watch, be patient, with love, and this can help us let go and heal. That sounds pretty good, but resistance is by definition resistant, and not always easy to discern and let go of.

And yet, the answer is always the same: allow, watch, be patient, do all of this with love, and let go.

And again. And again.

A key to releasing, I believe, is understanding that emotions are made up of thoughts and body sensations. When we experience an emotion, we usually allow our minds to run away with the stories, but if we can stop and allow and look, we see that an emotion is really a bunch of body sensations, to which we have linked certain thoughts.

This is my favorite releasing technique: How to release big and small emotions.

Here is another technique which is a little more meditative:

Get comfortable.

Close your eyes.

Connect with the present. Become aware of your breath.  Become aware of the in and out cycles, the contraction and expansion, the taking and giving, of breathing.

Listen. Listen to the sounds and see that there is no time delay between hearing and sensing. Don’t label, don’t interpret. Just listen.

Allow everything to be as is. Don’t try to achieve a special state. Let go of the meditator. Let go of that special person inside you who judges whether you are doing this right or wrong. Allow, without effort, everything just as is.

Witness with dis-attachment. Allow whatever is happening, and watch. Observe thoughts, dispassionately. Thoughts will pull. Thoughts will seem compelling. The mind will wander. When you realize it has wandered, observe, with a smile, and bring it back to the present.

Breathe into every thought and feeling and memory and emotion which comes up. Remain aware of the cycles of breathing. Allow and embrace all that comes up, embrace it with breath, envelop every feeling and emotion with your breath. Embrace the numbness and sadness and anger and frustration and confusion. Don’t reach for any particular thing.

The ego will want to run. Fear may come up. Embrace this too. What does it feel like, this lurching, this strong wish to run? Embrace it fully, allow it. Breathe into, experience it. Allow it fully, with patience and love.

Breathe into anything that comes up and stay with it until a natural, softening release happens.

Allow yourself sufficient time for this meditation. It can take five minutes; it can take an hour.

Like all the techniques which I talk about, with practice, this technique becomes an everyday tool that you can use easily even when you are not meditating.

23 thoughts on “Cleansing with the Breath: A simple Release method

  1. Liara Covert

    As you suggest, each person is encouraged to attune to his feelings, to do what feels right, now. Remembering that time exists in the mind is itself an invitation to step outside mind and expand.

  2. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    The man asks Tolle: If you were me what workshop would you attend next? The man shows Tolle this list of all these great workshops available. Tolle looks over the list and says: All these workshops/conferences look amazing, but, if you followed your breathe with awareness for one year (registration fee: $0), you would gain more awareness than anyone could ever teach you in a workshop.
    I got excited when I heard this on cd. I can do that! I can do that! I knew in my heart that I could do that. See I am like the “What About Bob?” (Bill Murray) guy, I can do anything in baby steps.
    Thanks Mr. K.
    Janice

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      You have been doing it.

      It’s a strange thing about our egos that we believe that our suffering is unique. I’ve heard so many people say something to the effect that it seems like everyone else has life figured out, what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel this way?

      Nearly everyone is uneasy with life. Sure, there are times when the ego is satisfied for a bit. But everyone is uneasy–some people can admit, some cannot. Some delude themselves even after they have the initial insight.

      You’re doing fine. And you make a very important point. Awareness is free, it is our birthright. It takes no effort, though it may seem like effort in the beginning because we are conditioned to run away from the present. There are absolutely no pre-quisites. You don’t need to be special in some way, you don’t need to be spiritual, you don’t have to have faith, you don’t need to believe specific beliefs. You don’t need to go to India and live in an ashram. You don’t need to know anything. In the very first few pages of the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says the biggest obstacle to awakening is our identification with thinking. Not thinking itself, but our strong identification with it. And a few pages later, he says you don’t need to know any more than that.

      You’re doing fine, Janice.

      love and peace,
      k

  3. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Kaushik, this was a good reminder for me today. I have some stuff going on and hence some stuff coming up. And I need to breathe through it, and sit with hit, and allow it to release. And it will take some time. I did something like this on a beach a couple of weeks ago, but I have gotten trapped in the ‘time-trap’ – feeling like there is not time, and have not tended to this cycle as my awareness (and body) have been urging me too.

    Hope you are well- Lisa

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      Yes, I go through that too. Periods of deep resistance or confusion. After wallowing in it for a while, I remember to go back to the basics. Be present, be aware, release, meditate. At those times when I can’t even seem to do that, I go back to reading and listening.

      Thanks for your open and helpful comment.

      love and peace,
      k

  4. Patty - Why Not Start Now?

    So true, Kaushik, about understanding release but having difficulty putting it into practice. I just had this conversation with a client yesterday, and her resistance was powerful. And as much as one of her emotions (resentment toward another person) had her in a strangle hold, she admitted she wasn’t quite sure she even wanted to release it. But if it’s OK, I will share your technique with her. It provide her with a way through. So thanks!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Patty,

      Yes, putting it into practice is the trick. I had all sorts of resistant questions: how can this work, I need to understand more, what is the spiritual or philosophical or scientific principle behind this, and so on.

      It’s just letting go. No more.

      Some of the most resistant people are spiritual people. I think the people who consider themselves spiritually advanced depend on concepts. Concepts of God and karma and high monks and priests and so on…We look for the conceptual secret. And even when these people go through humbling break-downs, they always tend to go back to the same conceptual solutions. They “deepen” their spirituality.

      It is not about concepts or understanding. It is about actual experience. Be here. Be still. Let go.

      In the end, people see this when they are ready.

      Thanks for your wisdom.

      love and peace,
      k

  5. Yu

    Great post. I’ve been meditating for a long while, and a technique similar to yours has gotten me so far. I recently took a trip to Mount Fuji in Japan, (I have a post of it on my blog) and I realized something interesting, that riding my bike has the same meditative effects that your regular meditation has. It is all about letting things be the way the actually are, it doesn’t quite matter where you are and what you are doing.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Yu,

      Yes, my experience is the same. After some practice, this technque becomes natural and technique-less. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Excellent insight!

      love and peace,
      k

  6. Pingback: Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog Carnival 164 « Health Fitness Support

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      Yeah, I’m fine. I was a little busy, so I didn’t post on Monday as usual. Thanks for checking. I hope you are dong well!

      love and peace,
      k

  7. Brenda (betaphi)

    Hi Kaushik
    Apart from that somewhat wooden quote at the top, I really like the way this writing makes me feel. I think about those still, quiet spaces between thoughts and wonder if I ever actually get there or if I am merely imagining it. I know imagination is a thought process. Still, imagining release is probably helpful as well, don’t you think?

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,
      Visualization is an important technique for many people. As you point out, visualization/imagination is indeed a mental process, so it’s not really stillness between thoughts. But in the end, as we’ve discussed before, it comes down to this: is there enough joy and peace in my life? And so if imagining release brings you more peace than you had before, it’s a wonderful thing.

      Also, it is common to doubt the simplicity of these techniques. The questions that often come up in people are: am I doing this right? Is this all there is to it? Is this what I’m supposed to feel?

      It’s most effective to simply let go of that questions. Yes, you are doing it right. You always were. It’s just takes some practice to see it.

      love and peace,
      k

  8. Evita

    Hi Kaushik

    In the last year, I began to focus more awareness to my breath, thanks to taking up yoga. It is and has been incredible!

    And now, thanks to your wonderful sharing on EvolvingBeings.com and this article, I feel as if the Universe has spoken to me my next step. I have been watching the Vipanassa videos and learning all about it, and cannot wait to go. This feels so right to do.

    I feel inner peace, but and there is the big “but”, I have not gone as far as I have to the root of my mind. Everything within is calling me to go there, and thanks to the breath techniques you described above and the meditation which I am very much looking forward to going to… I look forward to even more stillness and inner peace, and mastery over my mind.

    Many thanks for sharing this!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Evita,

      That’s wonderful. The first time I went to Vipassana, I was desperate for solutions to depression and anxiety, and prior that I had literally never meditated before. In the very first session, my mind was screaming–it did not want to be still. But it also did not take long after that to settle down a little. After that I went one more time to volunteer, and now I feel the urge again to go.

      You’ve already watched the videos and you already have some experience with meditation and spirituality, so you will do fine with it.

      Thanks for the opportunity to allow me to share on your site. It was fun!

      love and peace,
      k

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Please read the latest article (What works and What does not work). Within the article, I give this methodology:

          If you want a recipe, here is one:
          -Learn a release technique, like the one I have here. This is something which you can do for yourself which has immediate and lasting benefits.
          -Read the awakened teachers, the ones who are direct and contemporary, like Tolle and Adyashanti and Jed Mckenna.
          -Develop self-honesty. Be on the lookout for the tricks of the ego. Self-deception will angrily lash out at self-honesty.
          -Look inside. Some ways of looking inside are awareness, observing thought,meditation, and release.
          -See that you do not exist. Who you think you are does not exist. How can this be true? You have to recognize this, not just agree with it.
          -Understand what it means to accept. Accepting is not something you do; it is something you stop doing. You stop resisting.

            1. Kaushik Post author

              Vippassana is taught by Goenkiji in the Buddhist tradition. The website is dhamma.org.

              It’s a 10 day silent retreat, so it does require a commitment. During the ten days, you get a place to sleep, simple vegetarian food twice a day, a couple of hours of video instructions, and you meditate four to six times a day, one hour at a time.

              They first teach Anapana (breathing), and then Vipassana (insight).

              It’s a good experience, and I like the way they run the organization. It’s run completely on charity, and they will accept donations only from those who have successfully completed a 10-day retreat.

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