Guest Author: Written by Yonti Kristan, M.A. (exclusively for MM)
Auric Breathing is a simple somatic (body-based) meditation.
Like all somatic meditations it works by guiding you to focus on aspects of your sensory experience to produce relaxation and expand awareness. Auric Breathing uses the obvious tangible experience of physical breath as a doorway to experiencing the “breath” of the energetic field. The function of breathing is to bring fresh air into the lungs and exchange it for “stale” or “used” air which we can no longer use, thus keeping the body in a constant state of renewal.
This function of drawing in the new and releasing the old needs to happen in the subtle or energetic body as well in order that we not become energetically stagnant. When we limit the cleansing and renewing properties of breath, we become unwell. So too with our energy fields. Most of us do not breathe as fully or completely as we can, either physically or energetically.
In addition, the breath serves as a wonderful reference for three of the most important aspects of the human energy field: the boundary/edge, the center/core/pranic channel, and the ground. It also helps you reference 3 of the most important functional aspects of that field: containment/filling, centering and self-hood, and releasing/sourcing. As you breathe in, focusing on the edges of your lungs as you fill them, you begin to get a sense of yourself as a container for energy. As you breathe out, focusing on the spine, you begin to have a reference for the center of your own body.
As you come to the end of the exhalation, dropping the trap door at the bottom of the spine, you start having a reference for the releasing aspect of ground. When this release is full, energy naturally rushes up from the base of the spine, giving you contact with the other function of ground: sourcing.
You begin to breathe like a tree (see the image below) taking resources up and out and then bringing them back to center and down. This feels great! And it naturally returns the autonomic nervous system to the parasympathetic setting which cues healing and restorative processes throughout the body. Even if the connections with the subtle body elude you, simply breathing in this way produces excellent results and benefits throughout the body.
THE AURIC FIELD
In the image above you can see the ground represented in red as a root system connecting through the legs. This system also connects directly through the base of the spine. This is the location of the “trap door” I describe in the meditation, the place from which all the residue of stale energy can be released. The earth loves this energy. In the same way that plants make use of your used breath (they thrive on the CO2 that is the waste product of human respiration, thus my claim that we are literally asking for and giving life with every breath), the earth herself has use for the energy (stale or excess) that we discharge through the root or ground in our auric field.
This is literally true as our bodies are powerful electrical entities. As our mothers’ bodies did for us when we were in the womb, the earth offers us an energetic umbilical cord and through it helps us maintain our health and well-being. Humans have become chronically ill in recent decades in part because we now touch the actual earth so rarely. It takes an extra effort to activate the natural grounding functions of the body through concrete and from many many stories in the air. These circumstances are not natural to the human energy field, but it can adapt with effort. Practices like Auric Breathing can help us re-discover and re-tune this capacity.
Your field, like your lungs, has a edge to it. To discover this, approach a friend from across a large room with your eyes closed and see at what point you are able to “feel/sense” that person. What you have encountered when you do is the edge of their field. There is suddenly something pushing back, the way there would be pressure from the air inside a ballon. Having a sense of this edge is very helpful for many reasons. It can give you a sense of having a “home” that you carry with you at all times. It gives you a place to take refuge and feel your own “rightness” from which you can more effectively respond to the life going on around you. It also gives you a different way to reference the sacred space of other people and life forms of all kinds.
Knowing where we begin and end, which is truly quite beyond our skin, is very helpful in creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Some spiritual people have balked at the idea of the edge on the field believing that it creates separation and that this is bad. In my experience, separation in the relative is important and real. You do not question that your body is distinct from others…as we acknowledge it and function well within it, the system calms and becomes more available to experiencing the oneness that is true at another level of reality.
In the image above, the branches represent the ultimate edge of the field which is itself composed of many different layers. For a longer and more detailed description of what’s going on here, please see Barbara Brennan’s great article. As you practice Auric Breathing it is not necessary to know which layers of your field you are filling, just trust your innate intelligence to distribute the energy in the ways needed.
In the movement of the lungs we can sense both the expansion out towards the edge and the contraction in towards center. This is helpful because many of us have very little sensory awareness of the center of our bodies. Not only does this central channel carry all the nerves that enervate the body for movement and sensation, but at the subtle level, it is the location of all the energy centers of the body and the channels that connect them.
In the yogic tradition these centers are known as “chakras”, a term which is now in wide use as yoga has permeated the West. These are represented as colored disks in the image above. We recognize these when we say things like “in my mind’s eye”, “I have a gut feeling”, “I know in my heart”, etc. We also recognize when this channel is open and full: when it is we experience flow. When it is blocked there is a sense of frustration, blockage, stagnation, anxiety.
This center or core is not only important as a channel for energetic flow, it is also the functional source of our sense of “me”, organizing our energies to be appropriate to us. Our truth lives here. When we do things from a strong sense of this center they have a different quality than when we act from our surface or when this center is disorganized. When we have clarity in our center we show up differently to others; we appear clear and well-defined, strong yet flexible. Strengthening our relationship with this core helps us live in greater alignment and act in ways that are “true”. It’s hard to be “true to your self” if you can’t feel what your “self” is.
The practice of Auric Breathing originated as a way for me to teach people how to recognize their subtle body functions and improve them. Working regularly with this practice can help attune you to and strengthen your ground, your energetic boundary, and your core. It can keep your energetic body well cleansed and fed, just as it keeps your physical body well-oxygenated and relaxed. A relaxed and well-nourished and regularly cleansed you deals with the events of your life and relationships very differently than a contracted, straining, polluted, and under-nourished you.
Enjoy the practice for the joy that’s in it and for the feelings of bliss and well-being it generates. Return to it anytime you feel yourself getting off balance and it will help restore you to good function.