In every dream home a heartache
And every step I take
Takes me further from heaven
Is there a heaven?
I`d like to think so
IN EVERY DREAM HOME A HEARTACHE Roxy Music
Bryan Ferry sings about the miseries of the modern life in this very unusual song, on Roxy Music’s 1972 Second Album For Your Pleasure.
Basic necessities are covered, we enjoy a certain amount of luxuries, but somehow, no matter what we accomplish or own we cannot escape a feeling of emptiness. Let us replace every step with very breath in Bryan Ferry’s lyrics, and it describes exactly how many of us live day by day, short shallow breaths that indeed take us further from heaven and quicker to our graves, short shallow breaths that produce more fear, stressed, not relaxed.
Some indigenous cultures claim that each human being is born with a certain amount of breaths, once the number is reached we die. True or not, it is an interesting concept. Let us all slow down and take a deep breath.
For 35 years I have studied meditation, qi gong, taiji and for the past 9 years, yoga, including meditation and pranayama. Every morning I sit in the dark and do breathing exercises (pranayama) for about 30 minutes before I meditate. Pranayama, the cultivation of prana (life-force energy, like qi, ki, mana) includes very vigorous breathing, holding the breath, holding the breathing-out position, breathing in and out of alternate nostrils and moving the stomach in and out, sideways and circular, while keeping the outbreath position. It stimulates digestion, is heating or cooling, depending on which one we practice. It calms the mind, helps us focus and in my own experience regulates an irregular heartbeat, but most of all it helped me to become aware of my breath in the most profound way.
“In Ayurveda the vital life force that animates all beings is known as prana. Without prana we would not be able to enjoy and experience pleasure because it is this life force that gives us the ability to perceive. All perception through the five senses is governed by prana. Being such an important element of life, yoga has developed a science for controlling and expanding this vital life force called pranayama.”
We do not stop thinking when we meditate, at least I don’t, but when we are aware of our breath we can let our thoughts flow by and don’t become attached to a chain of thoughts. Instead we notice how the breath slows down more and more, especially when we practice regularly. We notice the ever-expanding space between breaths. Sometimes we might not even remember what comes next. Am I going to breathe in or out? Not that is does really matter, but here we are in the moment. This is the moment were transformation can occur and we feel the possibility that every breath can indeed take us closer to heaven. Does this lengthen our lives? Maybe, but I promise that it will greatly increase the quality of yours.
Many mornings when I sit doing pranayama or meditation, the thought pops into my mind that, “Wow, I am actually taking the longest breath that I have ever taken.” At the end of In Every Dream Home a Heartache, Bryan Ferry blows up a rubber doll, his silent companion, and once his breath is inside her, she blows his mind. A wild guitar rave-up follows and ends the song. During pranayama and meditation I become acutely aware, how my breath actually holds my entire body, my being, up. Once the last breath is exhaled, the body will collapse and slowly disintegrate. It just blows my mind.
My next Ayurvedic cooking class is this upcoming Saturday. I teach art, yoga, taiji, meditation, ayurvedic cooking and on special request, the practice and attitude of rock’n roll.