Breath-work for Astral Projection Training
(Excerpts from the Light Body Travelers Astral Projection Mastery and Self Illumination Curriculum,
“Life is But a Dream- Illuminating the Self Through Astral Projection Mastery”)
Countless literary works exist which offer instruction on the art of meditation, with many variations on meditation existing. Yet in virtually every legitimate meditative practice, breathing is always a central element of practice. Whether we speak of moving meditations or deep states of stillness and silence, the breath is always central.
For the Yogi, the air in each breath is the vehicle by which Prana enters both the physical vessel and the energetic body. The extension of this life force is accomplished through an exercise called “Pranayama”1, which allows the life force to move throughout both the physical and subtle bodies with awareness, enabling the energy to be directed in destination and action. By regulating the speed and volume of the breathing pattern, biological functions begin to slow down, allowing for conscious awareness to sharpen and become focused, allowing one to experience total liberation and unity.
In the Ayurveda2 tradition, guided breath serves as the connecting thread tying together the five aspects of the self. Visually appealing and worthy of further explanation, this teaching is presented with five circles, each one inside the next like a target. The outermost circle corresponds to the physical being; the next circle reflects the energetic being, followed by the pure emotional being (lower self-aspect), followed by the pure mental being (higher self-aspect) and finally the innermost circle representing that of spirit and pure oneness. The guided breath flows unceasingly from the outermost to the innermost circle through each inhalation and exhalation. This repetition merges consciousness into the higher states of being that lay dormant only to the eyes of the distracted.
(Visual references of this Ayurveda breathe awareness philosophy.)
Taoist meditation seeks to prolong life and vitality by retrograde breathing, a process that draws energy into the body through the belly with each inhale, in replication of the prenatal action of a baby breathing through the umbilical cord. This breathing process allows one to circulate Qi energy through the microcosmic orbit of the body, connecting the energy conduits of the physical self so they remain aligned within universal harmony. Many other examples of breath’s integral role within meditative practices can easily be uncovered by even the most cursory of studies.
The simple, and often underestimated, act of breathing with awareness is, indeed, a link to divinity. Mastering the breath is very much the mastery of the life force that flows throughout the microcosmic energy body. In commencing each breath as a sacred action, you will breathe, as you never have before.
To understand the power of breath work, take a moment now, as you read this description, to focus upon your breath. Start by simply noticing your breath, as it is right now. Just notice the pace of your breathing and feel it moving in and out of your body. Without altering your breathing, just allow your mind to follow its movement in and out of your body. Notice how deeply or shallowly you are breathing as well as the length of each breath. Become familiar with your breathing pattern, as an observer. If you wish, take a few moments now to close your eyes and notice your breathing.
Now that you have connected and focused on your breath, take a moment to let your consciousness follow along with it, as if riding on a puff of air as it travels through your body, your awareness flowing in through the nostrils, down the throat, into the lungs and then into your abdominal region and bloodstream. With each breath, imagine that experience, and notice the feelings associated with riding within that current of air. While this may seem difficult right now, and you may only be imagining the experience, within a light trance state such as that created by last week’s relaxation technique, you will likely find it far more interesting and rewarding. Right now, the goal is to learn a mental process, which you will later be using, in connection with a specific breathing technique, as part of this week’s meditation practice.
The breathing technique itself begins very simply, by emptying your lungs entirely. Try this right now, and then, as you breathe out; take a moment to recognize that your breathing is about to change, to take on an entirely different nature. Again, repeat breathing by emptying your lungs entirely, with a slow exhalation. Resist the urge to breathe in entirely at the end, but instead hold the breath for a moment or so, before slowly breathing in deeply and fully.
Notice, as you continue this breathing, how your body, especially your chest and belly, respond to the process. As you breathe in, allow the full expansion of your chest, and then your belly, as the air completely fills your lungs. As you breathe out, notice the belly deflating, then the chest and lungs releasing, then follow that puff of air through your throat, and out your nostrils. Notice the air in each of those regions: the belly, chest, throat, and nostrils.
Now that you have learnt this surprisingly simple breathing technique, combine it, for a moment, with the mental technique of riding along with the breath as you begin to place your vision inward. Right now, this is only an exercise to teach you this practice, but in trance states, as you do this, you should notice and feel far more. For example, at the beginning and end of each breath cycle, take care to notice how the life force that the air is carrying caresses your nostrils; feel the coolness of the inhalation, and the warmth of the exhalation. Bathe in the depths of this breath cycle.
You should also begin to experience the body sinking into itself on each exhale, nearly collapsing with relaxation. In effortlessly maintaining inner vision of the breath cycle, it serves as direct feedback that the conscious mind has voluntarily shifted attention entirely inward, and has allowed awareness of the exterior environment to fade peacefully into a calm void that no longer requires thought. As you experience this, be keenly aware of the emotional tranquility created through by the relaxation, and pay attention to the connection your breathing creates with all five aspects of the self. Observe your connection to the physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and source of being, as described in the Vedic wisdom. Awareness of the breath energy in these regions is of particularly import in the Pranayama exercise to come.
Week Two Meditation Guide
Part I breath-work, physical training
(Read through the entire meditation first, grasping the entire practice, as you will be learning to eventually complete the entire sequence with your eyes closed.)
When you engage in the meditative practice for this week, begin with the progressive relaxation exercise from last week, spending roughly 15 minutes to recognize that you are in a state of light physical trance. At that point, take a moment to notice your breathing. Allow your consciousness to ride the breath cycle as you breathe in, just as you did above. Within trance, the breathing exercise will transform, and the addition of the elements presented in part two of this week’s teachings adds an entire further level. Again, the initiate should be aware that it is often within the simplest techniques that the most profound learning’s are uncovered.
(A visual example showing the four distinct regions in which to follow the flow of breathe. 1 Nostrils, 2 Throat, 3 Lungs, 4 Belly.)
Completely deplete your lungs of air with a slow exhalation and hold. With one magnificently deep inhalation, allow your consciousness to follow the path of the air. Feel your awareness riding the current of air in through the nostrils, down the throat, into the lungs and then into your belly. Allowing full expansion of your chest, and then the belly.
With a slow controlled exhalation, release the air, following its path upward from the shrinking belly, up through the shrinking lungs, through the throat and back out the nostrils.
Begin to feel the breath in these four distinct regions, guiding awareness accurately into each, as the life force moves through you in a meaningful manner.
At the beginning and end of each breath cycle, notice how the life force caresses your nostrils; feel the coolness of the inhalation, and the warmth of the exhalation. Bathe in the depths of this breath cycle. Begin to notice the body sinking into itself on each inhale, nearly collapsing with relaxation. The conscious mind has now voluntarily shifted attention entirely inward, allowing the exterior environment to fade peacefully away into a calming void, which no longer requires any thought activity.
Become keenly aware of the emotional tranquility created through this relaxation and the connection it creates to all five aspects of the self. Observe your connection to the physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and source of being, previously described in the Vedic wisdom.
To incorporate the sense of hearing into this internal process, we begin to make the breath auditable. This highly effective breath extension practice involves a slight constriction of the glottis, the upper opening of the larynx. This is achieved by partly closing it with the epiglottis. By slightly constricting these throat muscles, a hissing, or “ha” sound is created which makes the breath audible. Constrict your throat slightly, and you will notice the open, whispery sound of your breath. The “ha” sound thus created can even be heard as a steady current reminiscent of ocean waves when it is applied to a soft and rhythmic breath cycle.
This form of breath work, called Pranayama, is used by evolved spiritual cultures around the world as a direct method for actively cleansing the energetic body on an alchemical, or internal level. The heat, which the technique begins to generate within the body, acts as the alchemical fire, the flame from which may begin to stimulate the spiritual energies of the Kundalini.
As you read this right now, slightly constrict the throat muscles as described above, allowing less air to pass through the neck at one time. Count the seconds it takes to make a complete inhalation, then hold the breath at the top for that same count and exhale for an equal number of seconds. Immediately inhale, repeating the pattern. Within the meditation, you will gradually extend the length of each breath cycle. This is achieved naturally as you continue the practice, as a result of the relaxation that it develops. Through this deeper tranquility, you will develop the capacity to extend each breath.
Now you will begin to bring in the inner vision of the breath as developed through the first meditation. Specifically, you will be paying attention to the energy in the four regions of the breath cycle discovered above: the belly, chest, throat and nostrils. Begin listening to the hissing “ha” of each breath, shifting your awareness from the sounds around you to the internal sounds of your body. You should feel a calm and continuous flow throughout the breath cycle. In particular, at the beginning and end of each breath cycle, as the life force caresses the nostrils, delight in the coolness of each inhalation, the warmth of the exhalation.
Now adding the sense of feeling to this internal process, follow this sensation through the breath cycle, feeling the life force within your breath as it touches each of the four regions, (nostrils, throat, lungs, belly.)
This week focus your practice on extending the length of your Pranayama breathing. By the end of the week, you should average two to three breaths per minute, but do not force yourself if you are not able to comfortably achieve this. Specifically, this breath rate is an average of 8 seconds inhaling and exhaling, separated by two pauses of four seconds, when you hold the breath at the top and bottom of the cycle.
Through this technique, the visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses become tied to the breath cycle, enhancing our experience of the spiritual nature within this simple action. The use of these sensory systems is a way to gain a deeper relationship with this simple act. As mentioned, the observance of breath is the observance of spirit moving through the bodies. This same spirit is also our guide to the threshold of freedom, one only need to maintain proper attention to it. From this point onward, whenever meditating, maintain a focused, rhythmic breath pattern and bring your awareness inward; allow your senses to refocus within the body by listening to the peaceful ocean-like sounds of the breath, and noticing the other sensory experiences that you can discover within the breath cycle. By simply bringing awareness to your breath on this level, you will begin to notice the aliveness of the energy that travels within your body, and will begin to gain the awareness necessary for achieving astral travel.
Week Two Meditation Guide
Pranayama Breath Extension
Practice the following Pranayama breath extension exercise and apply it within the Part II breath work meditation, which follows this exercise, as well as your meditations in the weeks and months to come. Learning the art of Pranayama breathing is a vital skill for meditations and Yogic practices.
Slightly constrict the throat muscles allowing less air to pass through the neck all at once. A "hissing" sound is created with this restriction throughout the entire breath cycle. Count the seconds of each inhalation, hold the breath at the top for that same count, and then exhale for the same count. Immediately inhale repeating the pattern, gradually extending the length of each breath cycle through deeper tranquility.
Begin shifting auditory awareness completely inward listening intently to the hiss of each breath. Learn to create a calm and continuous flow within each breath cycle.
Within this state, vision is focused entirely on the inner movements of air through four body regions, as the ears listen intently to the hissing of air.
Finally, at the beginning and end of each breath cycle, where life force caresses the nostrils, feel the coolness of the inhalation, and the warmth of the exhalation.
Draw this physical sensation down into the remaining regions and completely feel it as it touches each of the four regions, (nostrils, throat, lungs, and stomach.)
This week, advance and extend your Pranayama breathing to average two to three breaths per minute if you are able to comfortably. (Average 8 seconds on inhale, hold at top four seconds. Average eight seconds on exhale, hold at bottom four seconds.)
1 The term Pranayama is a combination of two words, prana or life force and Ayama, extending or stretching. By regulating the flow of air through each inhalation and exhalation, the breath is extended and brought into focus.
2 An ancient medical treatise on the art of healing and prolonging life, often referred to as the fifth Veda.