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THERE are breathers and breathers and breaths and breaths, and if you happen to be one kind of a breather you might take a good many thousand breaths without doing yourself very much good. All because you force one poor little bit of a muscle to do the work of a great man large muscles.

Perhaps some of you don’t know that you have in your throat the neatest little trapdoor ever was seen. You might not know it is there, and you may never have heard its name, but I’ll warrant you have experienced several unpleasant sensations in your day from having left this little trapdoor open at the wrong instant. And you have probably missed a great many enjoyable sensations by closing it up at unseasonable moments.

This neat little trapdoor, that works so smoothly you hardly knew you had it, is intended for just one purpose in ordinary life – the purpose of keeping anything more dense than ozone from getting into the air passage to the lungs.

But the epiglottis is a very intelligent and obedient little servant, and I have known singers to teach it to flap up and down very fast, and so help in producing staccato tones.

Then I have known other folks to impose shamefully upon this dainty little member of the human family, which is built for light, rapid motion and not for long strains.

Strange to say, it is the New Thought people, the disciples of love, who oftenest abuse it. But they don’t mean to, of course.

These new thinkers have got hold somehow of the notion that there is great virtue in holding the breath a long time. So they pump themselves full of air and batten down that poor little trapdoor and keep it down until they get red in the face, and their hearts thump tempestuously and then go pit-a-pat.

Have you gone shopping recently in some big department store and had your ears assailed by a dreadful nasal wailing the while your eyes rested upon the legend, “Don’t laugh – the pigs are dying?” And then you spied the pigs blown full of air and caterwauling themselves away. Whilst the pig is full and plugged up, the membrane of which it is made is stretched to the utmost. Now take him up between your two hands and squeeze him harder and harder. If there happens to be a weak spot he will burst. Or the plug may fly out. At any rate, you will stretch his skin, and it will take more air to make him plump again.

Now, that is just the way the wrong kind of holding the breath acts on your lungs. You stretch all the tissues of the lungs and batten down the epiglottis. Then the natural, untrained tendency of the chest and abdominal muscles being to straightway expel the air, all these muscles contract about your lungs, just as your fingers contracted about the skin pig, and the entire lung tissue and air passage, as well as the little trapdoor, are strained severely. And this straining interferes with the circulation of the blood, reacting upon the heart, and, if there does happen to be a weak spot in the lungs, you invite a haemorrhage. To cap all this, you make the lung tissue flabby and lazy.

The lungs should never, in ordinary breathing exercises, be forced to hold air – not for one instant.

The lungs are a pair of bellows, which fill as the muscular walls are expanded.

It is not the forcing of air inward that expands the chest walls.

Expanding the chest and abdominal muscles draws in the air, making no more of a pressure inside the body than there is on the outside. This allows a free circulation of both air and blood, and permits perfect oxygenation.

It is not the lungs that need training to breathe. They always receive all the air that the muscles will give them room for.

And they remain expanded and free just as long as the muscles will permit.

Correct breathing is correct muscling.

Breathing practices should be muscle practices, with the trapdoor wide open from start to finish.

When you practice breathing never mind the breath. Just see how far, and evenly, you can expand your chest and abdominal muscles straight outward; how long you can hold them steadily there without pressure against the epiglottis, and how very slowly, evenly and softly you can contract those muscles again. Put your WILL into your muscles, where it belongs – put your attention into them – and you will get the knack of correct breathing.

Breathe always through the nostrils.

Don’t try too hard. If you have to puff and blow after a long breath you made the divisions of that breath (inhaling, holding and exhaling) too long, and you shut the trapdoor. Try again. Breathe easily.

Breathe with a PURPOSE. Did you know that the difference between a man and an idiot is the difference between a purpose and no purpose? The manliest man (woman included) is the one who has the deepest, highest, steadiest PURPOSE.

The idiot breathes in short, irregular puffs, never once entirely filling or emptying his lungs! And his short, erratic little puffs go to build the thousand and one short, erratic little notions which make up his expressed self.

Aimless breathing practices are, like any other aimless efforts, beastly. Will your breath-generated power in a chosen direction. Aim with it. And see you aim high and steadily.

You can do anything you steadily purpose to do. Only vacillation can defeat you; -- unless you should happen ignorantly to aim at something which would enslave the free will of another. For instance, I had a man write me once to “utterly subdue to him his wife, and make her obedient to him in all things!” Now, his wife used to be that kind of a goose, but she had positively outgrown it and left His Mightiness. And this man might breathe and speak the Word, and hire healers till crack o’doom, and that is all the good it would do him. You see he didn’t aim high enough. If he had aimed to be sweet enough to win a woman’s devotion, he could do it, though it might take a few more incarnations in his case. But he could get there in time. Or if he had aimed to be a successful artist, or writer, or business man, he could do it without fail, if he kept steadily at it. But he wanted to boss other folks, and other folks had sense enough to boss themselves…. I returned that man’s money, and told him I gloried his wife’s spunk.

Breathe rhythmically.

It is said a single dog trotting across a bridge will do more toward shaking it down than whole droves of draught horses and heavy loads. There is no rhythm to the motion of the dog.

It is said a man with a violin could shake down Brooklyn bridge by keeping up a steady vibration of the note the bridge is keyed to.

A rhythmical heart beat makes a powerful body.

Rhythmical breathing communicates rhythm to the heart and brain and gives the entire man a good time. Breathing regularly and deeply brings the whole body and brain and soul and spirit into harmony of action.

Harmony is health. Harmony is power.

Did you ever see four men, or women, take three or four long, even breaths in unison, and at the last inhalation raise with the tips of their fingers, a heavy man clear above their heads? Without those long, even breaths, that feat cannot be done.

Rhythmical breathing generates power in the body. During sleep the breathing is even and deep, and the body recuperates.

Recuperates from what? From the irregularity of action caused by the waking, the surface brain. The breathing apparatus responds to every conscious thought. It gasps with astonishment, stands still with fear, or puffs with excitement.

In the long, quiet night it recovers its natural rhythmic action.

Our breathing apparatus is like a child’s untrained fingers – full of infinite capacity for the expression of beauty, harmony, power. But, like the child’s fingers, our breathing apparatus needs training to work steadily, intelligently, even if the brain does get flighty or lazy. Just as each one of the child’s individual fingers has to lean how to do its own work without responding to the impulsion sent to its mates, so the breathing apparatus must be taught to keep coolly, evenly at work no matter what is going on above in the brain or outside the body.

This can be accomplished by persistent practice.

Rhythmical action of the breathing machinery will keep the body full of power and prepare “a heart for any fate.”

One who teaches his body to keep coolly, sweetly, harmoniously at work no matter what turns up, will cease to gasp and gurgle, faint and collapse at the very times he most needs power.

When you are “tired” or “discouraged” your body is starved by short, irregular breath supply.

Lie down flat, with arms out from the body and eyes closed. Inhale slowly, but not too slowly; just easily; as you inhale, say mentally, with eyes raised under your closed lids, “I AM” – say it slowly and distinctly, and try quietly to realize that the Infinite is really you – “I and the Father are One.” Keep the chest walls expanded for a moment and the throat open. Then slowly and very smoothly exhale the breath, lowering your eyes as you do so, under closed lids always, saying softly, lingeringly, mentally, with downward inflection, “Love.” “I –AM – Love.”

Breathe rhythmically, as slowly as you can breathe easily, and always fully. Keep this up until your mind is quiet and you have forgotten all about being “discouraged” or “blue." Keep this up until I AM consciousness has gone with the breath into the lungs, and so into the blood, and with it into all the body.

It takes about two minutes for the blood to make the circuit of the body. But in order to change your “feelings” it must make the circuit several times, setting up a new rhythmic vibration of I – AM – LOVE – consciousness. Your whole being must “catch” the vibrations of that grand, peaceful, power-ful I AM consciousness. Lungs, heart, solar center and brain must pulse together with the Infinite.

This is the best “concentration” exercise I know of – the only sure means I know of for becoming conscious of the power flowing outward from the “world I AM: into the “world I do.” It is the only INFALLIBLE remedy I know for discouragement, unrest, lack of interest, impatience, anger, malice, revenge, resentment, and the hanging on habit. And I believe it to be literally infallible for any human being who really wants to be cured of any of these negatives.

Repeat the dose every time you feel negative. At first it may take ten minutes or more to free you, but after a time, five minutes will do it. If you nip every little spell in the bud, you will soon cease to feel distinctively negative at all.

In-breath the Infinite I AM; let it renew you, mind and body; out-breathe Love, Wealth, all you desire. Remember, you do not take in things you desire – they press out through you. You in-breathe I AM, Love, God.

NEVER MIND what the trouble is – just chop it squarely off with the practice. Keep at it. There is simply no end to the good you will get out of it. You will practice it until you get your consciousness right with the real pulses of your being – the I AM vibrations. In proportion as you live in that consciousness, you realize health, happiness, and SUCCESS.

Whatever breathing practices you use or don’t use, remember to straighten up and take a few, full, slow breaths, whenever you think of it – no matter where you are or what you are doing. There is LIFE in it and Joy.


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