Explorations in Breath, Pt. 2

64cd3533852a1035a55196cfea76ad60.gifI have been practicing the breathing exercises, primarily breathing into the three separate lung compartments – lower lungs or stomach, sternum, and below the clavicle. On the bus and train I’ve been pushing air slowly into my lower chest in order to strengthen the muscles there, as well as expanding the sternum.

The tricky part is filling up all three compartments when drawing for breath and then not feeling pain beneath my clavicle. It’s clear I need to slow my heart rate a great deal and also try while lying down.

Despite this I achieved an extended time period. I held today for 2 minutes 32 seconds, which is an improvement of over 30 seconds. More practice is needed, as my follow-up attempts today only averaged at 2 minutes 10 seconds.

The experience of the extended hold was interesting. I can’t speak for when these sensations occur as my eyes are closed, preventing me from seeing the time, but initially there is discomfort with the breath feeling like it’s capped off at the top of my throat. Following that it’s really quiet. I find myself getting lost in thoughts. I stay like that for a while, occasionally aware of my heart rate, sensations on my skin. Then the deepening begins, the feeling that my chest is compressing. I feel my body start to lean forward. The heaviness in my diaphragm increases and I get short sharp jabs of fear. I tell myself that there is always something after this feeling of pain. Swallowing helps too for some reason. Pressure slowly builds in my chest.

I try to remain in this state for as long as possible. Today I felt a distinct pounding in my skull and the predictable urge to gasp in air right at the end, which I did, as soon as I couldn’t hold any longer.

I’m curious as to how far I can push that last part, the pain component. That part is probably dangerous and I should be careful. But we’ll see how it goes.

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