Rosicrucian Writings Online

Relax ... Breathe Slowly

By John Palo, B.S., D.C., F.R.C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest December 1958]
A recent experiment with therapeutic breathing techniques at Queens College, New York, presents physiological support to these practices, which however are ancient. It also sheds further light upon their mysterious operation. Again, it is proved how wise men, with intuitive insight, uncovered and utilized great truths.
The intent of the breathing experiment was to demonstrate that retarded, slowed-down, exhalation induces relaxation. Thirty students complied. The speed of their pulse at the right wrist was used as a guide to the amount of relaxation induced. The pulse rates were taken during normal respiration and during extended or retarded exhalation. In every instance retarded exhalation produced a slowed pulse rate.
We have here a demonstration of one of the physiological effects known for centuries to mystics, such as the Rosicrucian techniques, for as the pulse rate slows down, the body relaxes. It is believed that retarded exhalation induces a parasympathetic ascendance of the Autonomic Nervous System. The parasympathetic part of the A.N.S. plays a vital role in the reparatory processes of the body.
The sage advice of that grand mystic, Thomas Jefferson, takes on added significance: "When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred."
Insomniacs who count sheep to sleep might find it wise to count as many as possible on each breath. Aside from the potency of the content of our prayers, one can readily see that lengthy prayer repetitions (beads, chants, etc.) will cause relaxation.
Emotional excitement tends to increase peristalsis, the successive contraction of the muscular fibers of the intestinal walls, and at least one colitis patient has learned to exert a measure of colon control by means of retarded exhalation.
In sinusitis, sinus drainage has been affected by slowed exhalation. The common cold, caught in time, responds well to simple respiration technique.
Future experiments, consisting of long-range clinical applications of periodic controlled retarded exhalation, should prove fruitful. Hypertension, Colitis, Sinusitis, Hay Fever, Asthma, Hyperthyroidism, Arthritis, Paranoia, Hebephrenia, and so forth, are particular targets.
The technique now in use, with the patient under supervision, is as follows:
Take a deep breath and exhale as slowly as possible. Time the exhalatory length with the second hand of a watch. After a short rest, repeat the procedure. Endeavor to increase your exhalation time. After a short rest, the procedure is again repeated. At the third or fourth trial the maximum exhalatory time is achieved. The body relaxes and the mind becomes clear.
Persons with heart conditions are advised to check with their physicians before attempting a program of breath control on their own.
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All men have the same destination in life, happiness. But there is no agreement on which road to take.--Validivar
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