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Shambhalla part 22


In the book “In Search of the Miraculous”, an account of Gurdjieff’s teaching by his student P.D.Ouspensky, there is a section relating how Gurdjieff stated that “time is breath
In the plant life, the duration of one breath is a day and night. Plants inhale in the day and exhale in the night.
Extending into other kingdoms, from the atom to the galaxy, there is a constant factor between living worlds in the three categories - breath, day and night, and life.

For the cellular world, 1/10,000 second could represent a breath, or a lifetime for a molecule.

Just to make the concept of time more graphic: for the sun a human lifetime might be perceived as a spark, just long enough to receive an impression


The yogis always studied the nature of each and every breath. An average person breathes 15 times per minute, 900 times per hour or 21,600 times per day. Furthermore, according to these yogis, the length of a person's lifespan is predetermined by a certain allocated number of breaths, already recorded within the body. By knowing the number of breaths allotted for one lifetime, the lifespan can be calculated and also regulated. Slowing down the rate of breathing, for example, stretches out the lifespan, and vice versa.This is not such an outrageous claim as it may appear to be.


Recent neuro-physiological investigations have shown that the unconscious breathing process is tallied by the instinctive primitive area of the brain, situated in the lower cortex. Conscious breathing, on the other hand, activates the higher brain in the region behind the forehead, also known as the 'silent area' of the brain. Reports have shown that when the breathing ' process becomes a function of the higher brain, no tally or accounting of the number of breaths is kept in the lower brain.

This means that while breathing consciously one can take an infinite number of breaths without reducing the lifespan. Breathing rapidly without any awareness, on the other hand, quickly uses up the life quota and one dies much sooner. Therefore, in swara yoga we analyze the nature of the breath and check the respiratory rate. Even though it is not possible to maintain constant awareness of the breath, at least the natural process can be slowed through pranayama.

While checking the breath, it can also be noticed that each expiration has a particular length. The yogic texts state that the normal length of exhalation in a healthy person is 10 fingers or 7 inches. Examination of the length of air passed from the nose during exhalation can reveal which physical or mental process is currently functioning.

During states of emotional excitation, the length of exhalation extends to 12 fingers; while singing, 16 fingers; vomiting, 18 fingers; eating, 20 fingers; walking, 24 fingers; sleeping, 30 fingers; and copulating, 36 fingers. In the daytime, emphasis will naturally be on inhalation and at night on exhalation.

In fact, the siddha's declare that decreasing the length of exhalation prolongs life. Those people who project the least amount of air during exhalation retain their vital energy and prana. In this way, the prana builds up and awakens the latent areas of the brain, thus manifesting what the yogic shastras term siddhis or super-mental powers.

Checking the length of the breath is also a means of determining whether excess energy and prana is being lost. People with weak constitutions tend to project the expiration to a greater distance. If the breath extends further than 8 inches when lying flat, this indicates loss of energy. In this case, pranayama will help to regulate it.