Open Windows

An Interfaith Soul Care Blog

This Week’s Quotation:

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

~ Buddha (Suddhartha Gautama)

Mind and Breath

Terri McCartney
Soul Care Facilitator

One of the greatest challenges I’ve confronted on my spiritual journey has been disciplining my mind. Maybe you can relate. Scientific research demonstrates the average person has over six thousand thoughts per day and that 80-95% are negative and repetitive thoughts! Therefore, having tools that support a calm and pure mind will undoubtedly have a positive influence on the quality of our lives.

Recent scientific research supports what has been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists for thousands of years: our mind and breath are irrevocably linked. The mind follows the breath.

There are many different breathing techniques that can be used. Slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing (called paced breathing) uses neural networks in the brain linked to emotion and is a powerful tool for restoring emotional equanimity. Another option is alternate nostril breathing. It has been shown to positively influence blood pressure, heart rate, and vital capacity.

For managing stress, the HeartMath institute recommends you take slow, deep, heart-focused breaths. This simple act of imagining your breath coming in and going out from the area around your heart calms and brings order to your nervous system.

Attentional breathing is a powerful tool for supporting us in managing our thoughts and moods. Bringing more awareness to our breathing helps us to increase awareness in other parts of our life as well. Old habits of separation and judgment don’t have to die miserably, they will just dissolve when they are no longer given thought energy. Remember, thoughts and emotions are ephemeral and you are that which abides. Just slowly and deeply breathe into that beautiful truth!

About Open Windows

We, the authors of this blog, dedicate it to the transparent exploration of the world’s sacred scripture and enlightened spiritual thought. We believe that the original inspiration of all faiths comes from a common source, named and revered in a myriad of ways. With that understanding, the innumerable symbols, beliefs, and practices of faith cease to divide. They become open windows to a common reality that inspires and unifies us. We find deeper insight and nourishment in our own faith and from the expression of faith from others.

We hope these weekly quotations and meditations speak to your heart and soul.

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Tom Cooper
6 months ago

“I am that which abides” seems to carry many levels of meaning and comfort” Thank you so much …. very appreciative of all that is expressed here.”

David Karchere
David Karchere
6 months ago

So fascinating that breath and thought are related!

For me, a brisk walk or hike helps restore a more natural breathing pattern which can be interrupted by the accumulated stresses of the day.

Thank you for bringing this ancient wisdom.

6 months ago

We have been reading about these connections for days, or weeks, or years…depending.. And now – what will happen when we live these truths on an absolutely regular basis. Not periodically when we are prompted by something we see, hear, or read – but consistently because we have developed the habit and we do it without thinking – I’m not there yet – but at least I am catching things faster and shifting my thoughts. As we each do this – our world continues to change for the better – blessings to each of us – thank you Terri

Jerry Kvasnicka
Jerry Kvasnicka
6 months ago

A phrase that comes to mind is “Where your attention goes, your energy flows and that thing grows.” The attention of most human beings is on externals, on how to resolve problems and issues, using the human mind for this purpose. Hence, the increasingly deplorable state of human beings on our planet. The breathing you’re recommending shifts the attention of the human mind back to the creative process flowing from Universal Being and restores the way life was created to work on earth.

Karen Pritchard
Karen Pritchard
6 months ago

Thank You Terri, i have been blessed to have been taught to teach Yoga, Breath, Meditation and Chant from some spectacular Yoga masters. The balance it brings not only to stilling the mind but to focus the whole body in balance, movement and posture. The flow of the breath in tune with movement, momentum, chant and even speaking adds a potency which creates ultimate harmony in the whole being and around the whole being.. To move in synch with the flow of Yogic momentum and the breath becomes a dance with our natural rhythm, as all of nature grows, flows and breathes itself into being. Taking a walk becomes a moving meditation if you consciously breathe in rhythm with every step and the perfect flow brings a natural euphoric or a calming experience.

The ancient Buddhist and Yogis practised a form of walking meditation which is still practised today. Often walking for days using the breath along with poignant postures, placing one sure foot in front of the other using the in breath with the left foot forward and the out breath with the right foot forward, after maybe ten steps, and then stopping to create a posture in sacred honour of their journey. The walking meditation would be a pilgrimage towards a sacred site or a gathering or an honouring of some celebration and sometimes take days or weeks to accomplish.

I replicate this walk in my classes before I take the class into meditation it stills the whole self, every cell, every thought and feeling arrives at a place of stillness where deep meditation can be centred with ease and accomplished more deeply.

You mentioned ‘disciplining the mind’, when we release the focus of the structure of having to discipline parts of our self and actively move in oneness – in this type of practise as a routine all becomes still. The whole body has to be in total release and relaxed until we can still the mind and feel that grace of deep meditation which naturally follows. Release attachment to discipline and embrace breath into the flowing body and the mind will then follow. All I can say is it’s a profound experience when we become actively gentle with ourselves in conscious practise and also become active in letting go of the attachment to the rigidity of discipline and become consciously soft in routine.

Also actively doing one thing at a time – being mindful and consciously breathing in that mindful state is such a beautiful activity which stills the the thought process into a furthering oneself into a gentle state.

My Yoga business is called Burst, Breathe & Be. To burst with activity using the flow of the breath, allows us to gently slip into the active state of “Be”or “Being”.

I wish for the world to find the oneness Yoga brings, even if it is through the activity of breathing in unison with the flowing momentum of the whole body being, in postures and all of life’s natural movement too. Simply BREATHING in unison with All and everything ❤️

Kari Bye
Kari Bye
6 months ago

Thank you, Karen, for sharing your experience here! So good to see more clearly what I feel naturally happening in my body. A focus on breathing while I walk has been with me for a long time. Regarding the rigidity of discipline, I think the willingness to “keep going even when it hurts”, generally called will-power, can also fall into that category. Being mindful and consciously breathing can help to release oneself into a gentle state rather than fighting with the situation.


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