Musings on all things inspiring

‘Tis the season…to be grateful!

As the holidays roll around, many of us begin to “practice the presents” (pun intended). But in all seriousness, this is a great time to practice the Presence. The Presence is that source of all your feelings of well-being, peace and love; and there is one surefire way to be in consistent contact with it: GRATITUDE!

As my present to you this holiday, here is a powerful and fun practice to bring the most gratitude and Presence into your Thanksgiving experience:

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down
  2. Begin to breathe in and out in a circular fashion (without pausing)
  3. Allow your focus to center around the heart, as if your heart had a little mouth it was breathing in and out of.
  4. After a minute of practice, introduce the thought-seed of gratitude, and let yourself feel what sprouts from your process. Different people, places, and things that have been of great benefit in your life will begin to arise in your consciousness.
  5. As these things arise allow yourself to feel the gratitude they bring. Feed that gratitude back into your heart and let the next person, place or thing arise that you are grateful for.

Do this for 5 minutes each day (or more if you are inspired!) until Thanksgiving, and I guarantee you will have the most present and connected Thanksgiving celebration you have ever experienced!

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Have you ever wondered what is your purpose in life? What is the meaning of it all?

One of the main messages I share through my business of public speaking and spiritual coaching processes, and emotional energy work is how to find more meaning in this collective and individual experience we call “Life.”

I had a client recently ask me if I knew what the purpose of my life was, as she was seeking for her own answers. I replied, yes, I do know my purpose, and that I felt it was applicable to everyone universally.

My understanding of “purpose” or “meaning” in life is informed primarily by my 10 years of experience living the life of a monk in a spiritual order where we meditated on average of about 4 1/2 hours each day. However, in my life in the secular world since those ashram/monastery days, I have seen that this understanding works equally well whether you believe in a spiritual notion of a Creator or you do not.

I believe that the universal purpose of Life, applicable to all of us, is to evolve.

If we take a look at the definition of evolve/evolution, it states “the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.” My definition of evolution is “to change for the better.”

We see in the physical world the process of evolution happening over the countless eons; plants, animals and any simple life form moving through the process of genetic mutation to become more complex, or “change for the better,” i.e. adapt to the conditions of the environment to be more functional or more comfortable.

When we overlay a spiritual perspective, we see this evolution gently directed by the invisible hand of our Creator. And we see that the spiritual dimension of evolution expresses primarily through our consciousness. To “change for the better” in our consciousness means to learn to become more connected with our intuitive sensibilities; the “voice of God” within us. It means to become more compassionate, forgiving, loving for the earth and all creatures on it. It means to become more aware and aligned with the natural flow of the Universe, and to act accordingly.

As a result, when we talk about the purpose of life being to evolve, it means on all planes of existence: physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual. When you realize this and begin to act accordingly, you are in alignment with your ultimate purpose.

Now, your interest may be to understand what role you are “supposed” to be playing on this planet. For that, I think that some people are very clear and others are not so clear, or do not have any strong desires to “be” something in particular. The most worthwhile process I have found to understand what role on this planet would fit you best is to examine your passions.

Ask yourself: What am I excited about? What makes me enthusiastic? It is interesting to note that the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek roots en + theos, which in literal translation means “in God.” So when you are enthusiastic, you are “in God,” meaning you are in greater alignment with the Universal Purpose for your life.

For instance, my passions are to see others grow, and to express beauty. For those reasons, I am aligned well with roles on earth that assist others in the process of their own evolution (like a coach and holistic therapist) and roles that bring more beauty into the world (creating visual art and performing music, in my case).

If you are unclear about your passions, or have too many to count, I personally believe that it ultimately doesn’t matter what role you play on the planet as long as whatever you are doing assists you to fulfill the universal purpose stated above. This could be happening whether you are a janitor, or ditch digger, or CEO or President of the USA.

If you want to dive deeper into your passions and purpose, I recommend contacting me (info@breathflow.com/760-445-4264) for a free exploratory conversation on how my spiritual coaching and/or energy sessions using the Transformational Breath(R) process can help you. These are powerful tools to assist you align your energy with the flow of Universal Energy, and as you float down that stream, as the song goes, “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

9 years ago today, I packed my sparse belongings in a van, and got a senior monk to drive me from the ashram/monastery in Los Angeles, CA to Encinitas, CA 2 hours south. A friend met me; we loaded all my stuff into her van and then went to the ocean to dive in and be baptized into a new life back in the hustle and bustle of the secular world.

It has been an interesting transition over all these years, and not always easy. In fact, sometimes down right difficult. But I have never questioned my decision, because I took the time to tune in with the truest aspirations of my heart.

In honor of this 9-year “anniversary,” I thought I would offer, as a gift to you, my chapter from the best-selling collaborative book, Align Expand and Succeed: Shifting the Paradigm of Entrepreneurial Success. 

In this chapter, I share the story of my struggle to stay or leave the monastic life. And at the end I offer the technique I used to help me decide the right path to take.

If you are struggling with ANY major decisions in your life, my hope is that this process may help you to choose the path most aligned with your Truth as well. Happy choosing!

(if you are interested in obtaining the book, you can find it on my website products page: http://breathflow.com/products.htm)

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SHIFT HAPPENS: Inspiration for a Life in Transition

A senior monk faced me in his simple ochre uniform. To me, however, he was more than just a monk; he was my counselor, my supervisor, my mentor and as close to a father as I felt I could have in the monastic order where I had spent the last ten years of my life. His counsel was compassionately simple and direct: “Then you must go…that is your Dharma, your truth.”

I don’t know how long I had been holding my breath, but the release flooded my being with a rushing wave of emotion and sensations of everything that was right. His words were a liberating confirmation of my own feelings; feelings that I had finally come to fully recognize only after nine months of agonizing consideration, counseling, prayer…and conscious breathing.

Transitions Serve to Awaken Our Potential

Our conversation revolved around a decision of serious impact on my future: whether or not to leave the spiritual environment of the ashram for a new, undefined way of life. On the one hand was the familiar path to which I had dedicated a decade of my life—noble, predictable, comfortable, secure. On the other hand were uncertainty, ambiguity, and fear of a fast-paced, chaotic world from which I had been sheltered for the past ten years. It was like making a decision to leave my job, move to a new city, and get a divorce at the same time…with the added burden of the one I was “divorcing” being God (not that we wouldn’t still be friends, but that I would no longer be living in His “house”)! On the surface the choice seemed a “no-brainer.” Yet deep inside there was a buried feeling compelling me to move in a new direction.

As all of us who have made life-changing decisions know, the experience can be traumatic. The territory is fraught with dark emotions of self-judgment, anxiety, anger, fear, and doubt. These days, as more and more people seek my assistance with their wellness, I realize that to wrestle with these emotions during intense transitions is to be human. However, to overcome is Divine.

In addition, there is every indication that the world is collectively moving towards a greater degree of change as old unserving paradigms crumble and fall away and new healthier, happiness-sustaining paradigms emerge to take their places.

Call these changes what you will—God’s Divine Plan, the end of the Mayan Calendar, the inevitable effects of rampant greed and corruption—the times are calling for a shift. From a spiritual perspective, transitions are a natural energetic thrust to prod us into taking greater steps towards our truth, our authenticity. That means a lot of people are either choosing to make transitions or are being nudged out of resistance, sometimes forcibly, by energies that are calling for a shift.

The Breath—Key to Accessing Your Unique Truth

The conclusion of my monastic journey revealed that I could no longer accept what outwardly appeared congruent while inside I felt out of balance. Ironically this understanding and the courage to leave the ashram came from more earnestly applying the spiritual teaching that I had learned inside the ashram! When I realized this I began to take what I had learned and transform it into something that I could share with others outside the cloistered grounds; something that significantly impacts the lives of anyone who seeks relief from suffering. The simple elegance of the result left me in a state of inspiration—literally. The very definition of inspiration means “to breathe in.” The secret lies in the way we breathe.

Using special conscious breathing techniques, we can connect with the most authentic parts of us, the parts that fuse passion and purpose into a fire of alchemy that naturally creates a path towards fulfillment of both. In other words, we discover our Dharma—individual truth in alignment with Universal Truth—our unique authenticity.

My personal breath practice led me to understand that the longevity of my happiness relied on living three important intentions:

  • I take personal responsibility for my happiness;
  • I face my fears;
  • I trust my intuition.

If the course of my life did not support these intentions, I would continue to be out of alignment with my authentic self and suffer as a result. Instead I have chosen to listen to my inner guidance and apply it in my daily personal and professional life.

Whether or not these particular intentions resonate with you is not of consequence. What matters is that you have a means to tune in with inner guidance and live in greater alignment with your deepest calling. Conscious connected breathing techniques keep us in the present where we can access the doorway to our intuitive awareness, the part of us that is fully in tune with the natural flow of our truth.

A Powerful Breathing Technique to Facilitate Transitions

The technique to tune in with inner direction in times of transition is profound in its simplicity. Anytime you desire to resonate more with your guiding truth, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed. Sit upright with your spine straight yet comfortable.
  2. Clearly define in your mind (writing often helps), the two or more options with which you are struggling.
  3. Take one of the options in your mind and begin to breathe as you think about it.
  4. At the same time, begin to breathe in a rhythmic connected fashion. Inhale smoothly, relax the exhale, and keep the breath connected. In other words, keep a continuous flow as if your breath were like an ocean wave rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation. It is important not to pause, but to keep the breath connected, and flowing at a slightly accelerated rate, as if you were walking to get some exercise.
  5. With the option still in your consciousness, concentrate your awareness of your heart.
  6. Notice without judgment what feelings naturally arise. Make note of the quality of your breathing as you dwell on this option.
  7. Then take the other option(s) and repeat the same steps, noting the feelings that naturally arise and the ease or difficulty that occurs in your breathing pattern. For example, are your feelings joyful or apprehensive? Does your breath flow smoothly or is there some difficulty in the process?

As you allow the different options to resonate with or against your authentic energy, it will become apparent which course of action becomes most compelling. Trust yourself and take it. You will never regret it.

When your journey brings you to an important fork in the road of your life and you have a difficult decision to make—be it personal, romantic, or business—take a few moments to practice this exercise. Tune out the voices of “shoulds,” “cant’s,” and expectations of others by tuning in to the deep inner awareness that peacefully and playfully guides your life in the direction of greatest fulfillment. The results will be different for everyone, so only you can truly know for yourself. This kind of conviction may be daunting, but it is very liberating.

A Life in Alignment with Dharma

Much has happened since the day I spoke with my counselor and my whole life shifted. My decision to leave monastic life has led me on the journey to become a public speaker, wellness practitioner, spiritual leader, and conscious entrepreneur, specializing in life transformation. Yet it is far from an “easy” lifestyle. On an almost daily basis I am reminded to take personal responsibility for my happiness and face my fear by trusting my intuition. It is important to note that facing fears doesn’t mean they simply vanish because you are facing them; in fact, at times it seems like the fear is intensified. Yet I have not regretted my decision for a single minute. When needed, I tune back into the original feelings of my own inner confirmation, accessible through my transformational breathing practices. There is no substitute for living in alignment with your truth. If you do not, it will simply not feel good. If you want to experience success in the form of lasting happiness, this alignment is required.

As we continue this journey on the ever-morphing landscape of experience, the realization becomes apparent that the only constant is change. In order to more successfully manage the changes and transitions in your life, tap into your inspiration by tuning into your breath. You will not only weather the turbulence of your own transitions more gracefully, but you will also become a vitally important player in assisting the world to navigate through the perpetual waves of change. This is perfect Dharma, expressing your individual truth in alignment with universal Truth. Live it. Breathe it.

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Christian Minson is a former monastic, Certified Breathwork Facilitator, and conscious entrepreneur. Through his company, Breathflow Wellness, Christian teaches the application of spiritual principles and breathing techniques to achieve modern-world success and happiness. As the “monk on the street,” he has delivered his message to churches, universities, and yoga centers around the country and abroad, as well as contributing to Vision Magazine. For FREE breathing technique downloads and more information, visit his website www.BreathFlow.com.

Breathe into Autumn

Welcome to Autumn, the season that shifts our perspective from outward participation and enjoyment of our life, towards a deeper introspective cycle.

This is a time for nurturing ourselves, reassessing and reevaluating our choices and our actions. Processes that support these qualities are valuable in this period of our life cycle.

The in and out rhythm of the breath can be a powerful tool for aligning with the rhythm of Life and opening you up to your deeper intuition and inner guidance.

Whether you are experienced with the practice of Transformational Breath or a newcomer, allow yourself the periodic practice of this technique to align yourself with Life itself, keeping you in the harmony, health and happiness that is your divine birthright, all along the way.

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices

Life has its  unique stressors, from extreme traumatic events to more pervasive lifestyle considerations, such as performance anxiety.  Whether the personal challenges you face are severe or small, there is a powerful remedy available through breathwork techniques.

There is a direct relationship to the way we breathe and the emotional states we find ourselves in. When we understand that each emotion we experience has a corresponding breath pattern, we can begin to use our breathing to release negativity and trauma, and increase our alertness, peace, and general feelings of well-being.

The process offered by Breathflow Wellness is simple: accessing and harnessing the natural healing power of our innate life-force energy by utilizing specific patterns of breathing (known as the Transformational Breath®) to maximize oxygenation of the body and brain. Oxygen(O2), being our #1 energy source, creates many beneficial results when it is introduced in abundance to the body system. There are many ways to increase O2, including hyperbaric chambers, ozone therapy, supplementation, etc.; however, the easiest and most empowering method for achieving results is to put the power into the hands of the individual by teaching them to learn to breath more effectively and how to use these techniques to balance and enhance their experience of life.

Oxygenating the body and brain has a powerful effect on the nervous system and consequently the emotions. The power of Transformational Breath is that it works on the subconscious root of any stored trauma or negative issues. By practicing a particular pattern of breathing that reinforces healthy emotional responses, one can clear the held energy of past traumas, and be more effectively present to deal with new challenges as they arise.  The end result of Transformational Breath is to unlock deeper layers of our potential, which can come in the form of intuitive insight, greater creative flow, and general feelings of well-being and clarity of deeper life purpose.

Take Home

One of the greatest aspects of using breathwork for healing and thriving is that it is readily accessible to us—anytime and any place. One simply needs to find a quiet space to practice the technique of Transformational Breath for 5 to 15 or more minutes.

It is easy to learn how to do the technique and participate in the daily practice of “100 Breaths to Joy,” a 5 minute session that can be done at a time most convenient to you. There is also the possibility of doing a longer session on your own after the technique is mastered and old habits of dysfunctional breathing become more apparent and easier to release.  It is recommended to have a number of facilitated sessions before this is attempted, so that you don’t fall back into old dysfunctional patterns before you have fully anchored in the pattern of healthy, deep, circular breathing.

For more information on Transformational Breath, visit www.breathflow.com

Why Is Breath So Important in Yoga?

I came across this post in a yoga blog and felt it was worth sharing. Being a breath-worker, I feel this has merit not only with regards to yoga, but to life in general. There is NOTHING more important than breath, whether we are talking about physical prowess, emotional balance, or spiritual progress.

This post may seem in conflict with some basic understanding with regards to Transformational Breath that I teach; however, I believe it is a good practice to be able to hold conflicting ideas in the mind and be able to comprehend the truth within all of those ideas.

Hope you enjoy. Please feel free to comment.

Here is the text that is also in the link above:

 

Why is there so much focus on the breath in yoga? What is the link between yoga and breath, and why is it so important (besides the fact that it keeps us alive)?

In a typical yoga class, we are instructed to consciously breathe, connect to our breath, breathe deeply, retain our breath, etcetera. What impact does the breath have on us, and our yoga practice?

Breath And Length Of Life

A yogi measures the span of life by the number of breaths, not by the number of years.
-Swami Sivananda

It is said that if you breathe 15 times per minute, you will live to 75 or 80 years. If you breathe 10 times per minute you will live to 100. The speed at which you breathe will dictate the length of life. If you breathe fast, your life will be shortened. This is why dogs have short lives.

Conscious Breathing

We are continually instructed to “breathe consciously” when we are in yoga class. Breathing consciously is the essence of yoga as it assists us in connecting with the subtle energy within. It is through the breath that we are able to navigate different levels of consciousness. Moreover, breathing consciously has a biological effect on our mental, emotional, and physical state.

Firstly, connecting with your breath is a method for being present. When you concentrate on each aspect of the breathing process, you are present; you let go of the past and future and are focused on the moment inside the breath. This is why breathing consciously is its own meditation. But this is just the beginning of why conscious breathing is important.

When you breathe consciously you activate a different part of your brain. Unconscious breathing is controlled by the medulla oblongata in the brain stem, the primitive part of the brain, while conscious breathing comes from the more evolved areas of the brain in the cerebral cortex. So conscious breathing stimulates the cerebral cortex and the more evolved areas of the brain. Consciously breathing sends impulses from the cortex to the connecting areas that impact emotions. Activating the cerebral cortex has a relaxing and balancing effect on the emotions. In essence, by consciously breathing, you are controlling which aspects of the mind dominate, causing your consciousness to rise from the primitive/instinctual to the evolved/elevated.

Controlling The Breath

By changing the breathing pattern, you can produce different states of mind. Slowing down the breath has an impact on your emotional state. The cerebral cortex is activated through consciously slowing down the release of breath. Then the cerebral cortex sends inhibitory impulses to the respiratory center in the midbrain. These inhibitory impulses from the cortex overflow into the area of the hypothalamus, which is concerned with emotions, and relax this area. This is why slowing down the breath has a soothing effect on your emotional state.

Channels Of Subtle Energy

Breath controls the body, mind, and emotions. There are 72,000 nadis, or channels where the subtle energy flows throughout the body. Of the 72,000, there are 3 that are the most important: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.

The Ida Nadi begins at the Muladhara Chakra, courses through the chakras and ends in the left nostril. Ida is aligned with the moon energy and has a calming and cooling effect.

The Pingala Nadi originates at the Muladhara Chakra, courses through the chakras and ends in the right nostril. It is associated with the sun energy and has a heating effect.

The Sushumna Nadi is the central channel. This is the nadi that the Kundalini energy travels. It is associated with balance.

During the course of the day, the left and right nostril alternate in which one dominates. This is accomplished through erectile tissue in the nasal passage that inflates with blood to cut off, or reduce the flow of air. One of the nostrils will dominate based on your mental, emotional, and physical state. They alternate throughout the day. As they change over, the Sushumna is activated, but only for a couple minutes. The key is to activate Sushumna for a longer period of time. This is accomplished when both the Ida and Pingala are flowing evenly.

Prana And Pranayama

In yoga we learn to control prana, the vital force, through pranayama. We use the breath in pranayama to learn to control prana, but don’t confuse prana with breath. Prana is the energy that animates the lungs. It is NOT the breath. Using the breath is the easiest method for training prana. Once you are able to control prana through pranayama you are better able to control the movement of prana to other organs and areas of the body.

The breath being the mode of pranayama, we focus on the three stages of respiration: inhalation (pooraka), retention (kumbhaka), and exhalation (rechaka). However, according to yogic texts, pranayama is retention. Inhalation and exhalation are methods for affecting retention.

Kumbhaka, or retention of the breath has a physiological effect on the brain. First, it provides more opportunity for the cells to absorb oxygen, and eliminate more carbon dioxide. This has a calming effect on the mental and emotional body. In fact, scientific studies have proven that slight increases in carbon dioxide for a short amount of time reduce anxiety levels. However, it is only beneficial up to a certain level. Carbon dioxide becomes very harmful, even fatal at high levels.

Furthermore, when the breath is retained, the brain panics because the carbon dioxide levels increase. Increased carbon dioxide levels stimulate the brain’s capillaries to dilate. In this way, more capillaries in the brain are opened up to improve cerebral circulation. This builds up an immense amount of nervous energy in the brain, forcing the creation of new neural pathways and the activation of dormant centers; the brain is activated and awakened!

Breath And Sound

Every vibration has sound. Breath, a vibration, also has sound. The Yoga Chudamani Upanishads states that the breath has a sound that is heard at a particular level of consciousness. According to the Upanishads, the sound of the breath is “So” during inhalation, and “Ham” during exhalation.

When you withdraw your senses from the external, you are then tuned into the internal sound and can hear the breath. By mentally chanting – So-ham, the mantra manifests as an audible sound in the inner ear. In Kundalini Yoga, we mentally chant Sat on the inhale, and Nam on the exhale which serves the same purpose.

Mind, Prana, And Breath

Basically we can look at the breath like the oil in a car, prana as the gasoline, and the mind as the engine. By understanding their relationship to one another you are better equipped to navigate your life to a higher elevation, and repair it when it breaks down. The yoga mat is just the starting point of your journey.

Moody Clues…

Well here I am again…sitting on the edge of the blog cliff. Exactly one month since my last post…By the delay in time since the last entry it is obvious I have been stalling…And the longer I stall the more difficult it is to get back into it. But no time like the present to take a deep breath and jump…

It has been raining lately. We REALLY need it. However as much as it is necessary, it puts me in kind of a funk. I am in awe that I am affected by the weather so easily. Affected by many things, This is one aspect of what it means to be moody…allowing external factors to have control over my state of being.

What is really going on here? I believe that changes in the environment: weather, other people’s behavior, traffic…whatever, ultimately just stir up the pot of unintegrated feelings that still reside inside. I realized as I was doing my first session of work with my current “Self-Love coach,” Anat Peri, that moods come from repressed, unexpressed feelings. In my childhood I was very moody. I realize now it is because I had a difficult time expressing my true feelings in my family environment.

There were feelings that a 7-year old needs to express, but doesn’t have the skills to do so; at least in my case. When these feelings aren’t expressed they get bottled up and eventually leak out. This to me is a basic definition of a mood: leaky unintegrated feelings. As I grew older my moods became a passive-aggressive tool. In my family dynamic, the expression of feelings was not promoted. It was more important to keep an air of equilibrium to the environment. But even as a teenager, there was still the feelings inside of an unresolved 7-year old. As those feelings came out in moods, they annoyed my parents. In the childish manner of a 7-year old I used those moods to “get back” at them unwittingly; for not being able to express my feelings and on some level feeling they were at fault for it. It was my attempt to clear the air in the only way I knew…dysfunctionally.

Interestingly, as I grow older (and hopefully a little more mature) I recognize that moods are still there, the unresolved 7-year-old still lives inside, waiting to be validated. I also have come to understand that it is not my parent’s fault; this validation must come from myself. It is so interesting. I am doing 2 programs at the same time and they are both bringing me to the same realizations. First, I am leading a group through The Presence Process, by Michael Brown. This week in that process is the conscious response to internalize, “I am innocent.” The whole chapter is on nurturing the inner child, which represents joy, creativity. The other program is a 100-day formal Self-Love affair. The first session got into my unresolved relationship with my parents as a block to loving myself. The conclusion of both: In many ways I am still 7 years old, and until those 7-year old issues that have never been dealt with are addressed, I will continue to experience that unresolved energy in my life, resulting in moods and a less loving attitude towards myself, and reflecting those attitudes on those around me.

The solution from both programs lies in my hands: I have to nurture that inner child into a new level of safety and expression, and I have to forgive my parents as that 7-year old, so I can relate to them as an adult. Plain and simple…and not easy.  But why not? I am the one who makes it difficult. Well…it’s the 7-year old.  But it is time to treat him like an emotional 7-year-old, pick him up, hold him until his emotions have been fully expressed, then let him go run off to play with a new reset attitude. And so it is…