Albert Einstein wisely said: “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them.” What a great and valuable insight that is! For it immediately focuses our attention in the direction we need to go in order to solve the problems at hand, whatever they may be.
But what are the mechanics of changing our level of consciousness? I believe the best place for us to start is with the breath. Does that surprise you? Let’s look at that.
It’s a physiological fact that when you’re angry, the heart races and your brain becomes overheated; and if this anger is not abated it can cause physical damage to your mental and physical well being; and in extreme cases people have even died from excessive anger.
Unfortunately, as you well know, it’s not uncommon to hear of someone becoming so angry that they attack and even kill another person. And had they been in their right mind, that is, in their normal state of consciousness, they would never have considered such a violent act.
Now let’s see how the breath ties into these various states of consciousness. What is your breath like when you are angry? ……That’s right; it’s very rapid and shallow and that brings about a nervous and agitated state of consciousness, doesn’t it?.................
Now remember how you felt when you were at a sporting event and your favorite team was struggling to win that close game. You weren’t calm then, were you? Your heart was probably pounding as adrenaline was being pumped into your muscles making you feel really nervous with all the excitement.
Now, what if, just at that moment, someone handed you your chemistry or philosophy exam? Would you be in the optimum state of consciousness for you to do your best? Not a chance! You would have to calm down first and get in a quiet environment in order for you to begin to collect your thoughts so that you could then successfully communicate your knowledge of your subject.
There is also a direct relationship between the breath rate and longevity. The giant tortoise, for example, breathes four times a minute and can live in excess of 300 years! Whereas, the restless monkey breathes about 32 times a minute and has an average life span of about 25 years, which is less than 10% of our slow moving and slow breathing friend, the tortoise. This is worth thinking about in relation to our own longevity, where we see that people who are relatively calmer than their nervous counterparts often live much healthier, happier and longer lives.
So thinking about the calmer and slower end of the breath spectrum here, have you ever noticed when you’re really concentrating on something you aren’t paying attention to anything else around you, and sometimes you may not even hear someone speak to you or hear the phone ring? What is your breath like when you are concentrating like that? Have you noticed? It’s very slow and calm, isn’t it? In fact, the calmer and more concentrated the mind is, the quieter and slower the breath.
All right then, now we can relate the breath back to what Albert Einstein said. “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them.” With this understanding we see that when the breath is calm the mind can concentrate more powerfully. We then begin to realize that we actually have a powerful tool that can help us change the level of our consciousness whenever we feel the need.
And the science of this process, the calming and controlling of the breath and the mind comes to us from the culture of ancient India, where it has been in practice for more than 5,000 years! This science of concentration and breath control is known the world over as meditation. And I wholeheartedly recommend it to you as the greatest key to personal growth that can be found in our world today!
I’m John Johnston. See you next time, here, On the Cosmic Porch!