So the discipline of breathing has great significance. A change in breathing creates a corresponding change in your mind. And there is no danger involved now it has been established – and established very scientifically – how mind behaves in different states of breathing. There was danger of course in the initial stages of this experiment. In fact, danger is there in the experimental stages of every new adventurous search in life. But when an experiment succeeds, it becomes a scientific law. For instance, it is impossible for someone to be angry if they keep their breathing steady and calm. Anger and calm breathing cannot go together. The contrary is also possible. If you breathe the way you do when you are angry, you will soon find anger arising in your mind.
Pranayam, or the discipline of breathing, has discovered many methods to transform your mind.
It would be good to understand the difference between what we call artificial breathing, and what we call natural breathing. What you know as natural breathing is not so natural. If you really understand it, you will know that what you are accustomed to is artificial breathing, but because you have been breathing this way for a long time, ever since your childhood, you have become used to it. It has become your habit – a second nature. Really you don’t know what natural breathing is.
You breathe one way during the day, and during the night you breathe in quite a different way. Your breathing during the day has been artificial. In the night during sleep, natural breathing takes over – its process during your sleep is more natural than your daytime breathing.
We have gotten into a certain habit of breathing during waking hours which is not natural, and there are reasons for it. If you become a little aware of your ways of breathing when you are in a crowd and when you are alone, you will find that they are quite different. You will also find that your breathing changes as soon as you leave the crowd and are alone.
You breathe in a certain way while you are with the crowd, and you breathe quite differently when alone. Surrounded by a crowd your mind is tense and your breath is short and shallow; it does not go deep. But when you are sitting alone and relaxed, your breathing becomes deep again. And when you go to bed at night, it completely deepens during your sleep. You never breathe so deeply during the day; awake, you never breathe so naturally and deeply and so loud that you can hear it.
What is known as our natural breathing is not natural; it is only conditioned and artificial breathing, which has become a habit. Children breathe in quite a different way. Put a child to sleep and then watch him; he breathes with his belly – as he breathes his belly rises up and down. But grownup people breathe with their chest, and so it is their chest that moves up and down with breathing. The child breathes naturally. And if you begin to breathe the way children do, your mind will slowly get into the same state as a child; your mind will be as innocent as the child’s. Or conversely, if you become as innocent as a child, you will begin to breathe with your belly.