And The Sidetracks

Repeated from Body and Breathing Awareness.
My experiences started when i was very young. It was normal and habitual, at nights before sleep, i would breathe and feel my whole body expanding and contracting.

I thought that i breathed into and out of my belly, and this somehow caused the whole body to expand and contract.

In addition the sensation was as though i was breathing in and out through my skin, rather than my nose; i knew this couldn't be true, but it felt good so i just went with it.

My childhood experiences were so normal, habitual and enjoyable that i never even started questioning them. There was nothing mystical about it, i'd read nothing, i was very naive.

The feeling of expansion and contraction would regularly lead to a loss of spacial sense, i would feel as big as the room or very very small, often as well, with a floating feeling. This was happening from at least age 10 or 11.

When i was around 11 years old i started talking with my Mother about my experiences.

I learnt that my Mum had a very nervous first pregnancy, and so for me the second child, she went to pre-natal breathing and relaxation classes. She continued doing what she learnt there throughout her life, often saying this 40 minutes lying down in the afternoon, breathing, was more refreshing than the nights sleep.

So i believe i started following my Mum's beathing practices in her womb.

Note: Breathing lying down and sitting

I was maybe lucky – i only practised awareness of my breathing when i was lying down and relaxed; this stimulates the feeling of whole body breathing. By contrast, when sitting the feeling of expansion in the legs is minimal, because the buttocks are constricted; and for example, when i try to quickly pack as much air into my lungs as possible, it can feel as though i'm pulling the air out of my arms.


When i was around 18 and started reading, i found Taoism and then Buddhism with their breathing exercises, and i immediately felt the connection and started doing the exercises. Unfortunately then i started to lose the completion of the original feeling, and i started developing only mind and tactile sense.

My biggest detour was counting my breaths 1 to 10, which i now recognise as totally useless except as a concentration and willpower exercise. It was in the commentary of "The Heart of Buddhist Meditation". Concentrating on the breath in my nostrils (without any mention of awareness of the smell) was another silly thing which i often practiced.

All the sidetracks, the clever things 'honourable teachers' were suggesting, with so many fascinating astral worlds and chakras and hidden secrets to read about and experiment with; all of them so much more bright and attractive than those naive childhood experiences... but really... my original experience pre-18 was far more pure and real, simple and beautiful than almost anything i've learnt since.

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