Breath & Mind

“Can you control your mind so that it never strays from the way of Tao? Can you control your breathing so that it is soft and gentle like a new-born babe?"

Lau Tzu

The connection between the mind and the way we breathe has been asserted by Eastern sages for centuries. For obvious reasons, they have not emphasized the physiological connection that would make sense from a Western scientific point of view. 

But modern science has recently arrived at the same conclusions as the ancient yogi and meditator. Recent research is clear; the functional chemistry of the brain is largely determined by a delicate balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen - which is directly regulated by the depth and frequency of our breath.  

There is no person who breathes within the optimal physiological norms and who suffers with mental problems – to the contrary, their disposition is invariably relaxed, clear and deeply content. They control their mind instinctively and without effort. Anyone can observe how the mind can excite the breathing - but few realize how the breathing can also influence the mind. 

A vast and growing number of people are suffering from so called psychological or psychiatric problems such as uncontrolled anger, anxiety, panic, depression, stress and all kinds of behavioural problems - these are breathing related problems.  

Less than optimal breathing will result in a less than an optimally functioning mind. The quality and function of the mind are tightly bound to the way in which we breathe, as the latest scientific research shows:   

“The brain, by regulating breathing, controls its own excitability” Balestrino & Somjen, 1988.

“Hyperventilation leads to spontaneous and asynchronous firing of cortical neurons".   

Huttunen et. Al, 1999.

And this is what certain transcendentalists, meditators and yogis have been asserting for centuries.

“Mind and breath have the same source. Hence breath is controlled when mind is controlled and mind, when breath is controlled. Breath is the gross form of the mind.”

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, 1965.

“The perfect man breathes as though he is not breathing.” 

Lau Tzu, 604-521 BC

"The removal of outside stimuli and the suspension of the breath within the nostrils controls the mind, and the transcendentalist becomes free from desire, fear and anger, and the one who is always in this state is certainly liberated."