Common steps and sub-activities

Rhythmic breathing

Rhythmic breathing is a general term used in numerous commercial meditation books, that combines controlled breathing with forms of learning suppression in a similar way to counting over and over again. At a more specific level it uses a variety of Tedious repetitive tasks.

All you have to do is breathe to a set rhythm and concentrate only on that rhythm of breathing – counting to do it – ‘in … one two three four five; out … one two three four five six seven eight nine ten’. 

The following table was extracted from one of several books of the subject [all of which differ!] of the breathing rhythm and correlation between the states reached…

Levels of Consciousness

State of consciousness

Brainwave frequency

Breathing rhythm

State of being

Active thinking

Beta

Inhale 1 to 2 seconds

Questioning thinking

Predrowsy

Alpha

Inhale 8 seconds Exhale 8 seconds

Daydreaming

Change of emphasis/healing

Alpha/Theta

Inhale 4 seconds Exhale 8 seconds

Transition from personal to transpersonal

Drowsy

Theta

Inhale 4 seconds Exhale 16 seconds

Transpersonal creative intuitive

Sleep

Delta

Inhale 4 seconds Exhale up to 30 seconds

Restful body and mind, harmony, peace

 

Although the last line says ‘sleep’, it is possible with practise to remain awake with these breathing rhythms and it is possible that it is these rhythms that enable the composer to work for you at maximum effectiveness.

Thus, something between drowsiness and sleep would seem to be ideal.

How does it work?

The numbers repeated over and over again, serve to still the mind by giving it nothing on which to reason. This is simply the suppression of thought and carries reltively few risks.  But the breathing aspect is less safe.

I included this method specifically to show the dangers inherent in using books and youtube videos written and produced by people who have no understanding of the mechanisms by which these techniques work. 

Depending on the rate of breathing it might work by depriving you of oxygen.  As less oxygen is received by the brain, the mind starts to shut functions down.  The reasoning function is the first to go.  This is hypoxia and there are real dangers with using hypoxia as a means of provoking any form of experience - one being brain damage.

If you over breathe - take in more oxygen than you need this too can have an effect. 

Hyperventilation or over breathing occurs when the rate and quantity of alveolar ventilation of carbon dioxide exceeds the body's production of carbon dioxide. Hyperventilation can be voluntary or involuntary.

When alveolar ventilation is excessive, more carbon dioxide is removed from the blood stream than the body can produce. This causes the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood stream to fall and produces a state known as hypocapnia. The body normally attempts to compensate for this metabolically. If excess ventilation cannot be compensated metabolically, it will lead to a rise in blood pH. This rise in blood pH is known as respiratory alkalosis. When hyperventilation leads to respiratory alkalosis, it may cause a number of physical symptoms: dizziness, tingling in the lips, hands or feet, headache, weakness, fainting and seizures. In extreme cases it can cause carpopedal spasms (flapping and contraction of the hands and feet)

 So the rate is key and this is why you need a qualified teacher and exact figures geared to you.