Question: I read something in one of your books about the control of breath in meditation. Could you elaborate on that?Sri Chinmoy: In Yoga, there is a systematic way of breathing called pranayama. This is a Sanskrit word. But this is dangerous if you do not have a teacher to guide you at every step. Without the proper guidance of a real Master of pranayama, many people have developed tuberculosis and died. But if you want to learn a very simple way of controlled breathing which will help you in your meditation, and at the same time will not create any danger, then I can teach you what to do. When you breathe in, try to breathe in as slowly and as quietly as possible. The highest type of spiritual breathing, which is not at all dangerous, is to breathe in so slowly and quietly that if somebody placed a tiny thread in front of your nose it would not move at all.
When you breathe in as slowly as possible, feel that you are breathing in not just air, but cosmic energy. Feel that tremendous energy is entering into you, and that you are going to use it to purify yourself: your body, vital, mind and heart. Feel that there is not a single place in your body that has not been occupied by the flow of cosmic energy. It is flowing like a river inside you. When you feel that your whole being has been washed or purified by the cosmic energy, then feel that you are breathing out all the rubbish inside you, all the undivine thoughts, impure actions, obscure ideas. Anything inside your system that you call undivine, anything that you do not want to claim as your own, feel that you are exhaling it.
This is not the traditional yogic pranayama, which is more complicated and systematised. Pranayama is a traditional yogic discipline. But what I have just told you is the most effective spiritual method of breathing. If you practise this method of breathing, you will soon see that it is not imagination; it is reality. In the beginning you have to use your imagination, but after a while you will see and feel that it is not imagination at all, but reality. You are consciously breathing in the energy which is flowing all around you in the cosmos, purifying yourself, and emptying yourself of everything undivine. But this breathing has to be done in a very conscious way, not in a mechanical way. If you can breathe this way for five minutes every day, you will be able to make very fast progress.
When you reach a more advanced stage, when you breathe do not feel that your breath is coming and going only through your nose. Feel that you are breathing in through your heart, through your eyes, through your nose, through your pores. Now you are limited to breathing only through the nose or the mouth, but a time will come when you will know that any part of the body can breathe. Spiritual Masters can breathe even with their nose and mouth closed. When you have perfected this spiritual breathing, you will feel that all your impurity and ignorance is gone. What has come to replace your ignorance and your imperfection is God’s Light, God’s Peace and God’s Power.