Saturday, June 05, 2010

Pastishe 2: Subtle Breathing (Starhawk)

It's important to spend time just experiencing your breath, to communication with your Breathing Self without limiting words. Sometimes there's a strong urge to examine breathing too much, to delve into logical, analytical books on the brain and the limbic system. While such knowledge can be useful, knowing too much in a theoretical sense can diminish your link to the Breathing Self.

Facing East, breathe deeply. You body depends on breathing. Breathing is the gateway to life. In a sacred space, stand still and concentrate on breathing. Imagine that the Goddess is before you, breathing, her breasts rising and falling in time with your inhalations and exhalations.

Take a deep breath and imaging yourself as a young girl (this exercise works even if you are a man). As you inhale, imagine the burgeoning, verdant beauty the Goddess sends us in the Spring. Imagine the budding leaves unfolding. See the flowers pushing up out of the ground. Allow your Breathing Self to smell the flowers' scents. Know that you are Istarte, Persephone, Diana, and others.

Now hold your breath and imagine yourself as a mother. Hold your breath in your womb (or your spiritual womb if you are a man). As you hold the breath imagine your children playing in a garden filled with the fecundity of the Earth. Bright apples -- no longer the shameful prize dubiously assigned by a moralistic patriarchy, but a divine gift from a sensual Goddess -- hang from the boughs above. See how the golden grain blows playfully in the breeze, which is the breath of the Goddess. Know that you are Hera, Demeter, Isis, and others.

When it feels right, let your breath escape from your lungs. Feel it rush out, through your windpipe, into your head, and out of your nasal passages. Let your released breath rise up, free and apart of you, like a bird. As you exhale, imagine yourself as the crone, with dray, hanging breasts, and kinky, grey stringy hair. As the last of the air goes out of you, feel that you are dry dust blowing away through the desert night under a dark moon. Know that you are Hacate, Kali, and others. (If you are doing this in a group, you might want to take turns letting out your last breath while other members wail in a circle around you.)

After you are done with this exercise. Sit down with your Book of Myst and record any thoughts or images which may have arisen. Repeat this several times -- you may notice a pattern. It can be a good practice to breathe together in a circle of friends. For example, when I first taught this in a class, I realized that I would breathe like my father did when he was worried about us trampling his flowerbeds. I had been breathing like him for years and I never realized it! With help from friends in the class I was able to stop breathing my father's breath and more clearly connect with my own personal Breathing Self.

Establishing a strong bond with one's Breathing Self is the first step to more fully knowing the Divine Breath of the Goddess.
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