osho on breathing

Osho has many times spoken about the energetic differences between the inhalation and exhalation parts of the breathing cycle; "whenever you inhale, it is life, and whenever you exhale, it is death... whenever you exhale, you are more at peace... whenever you inhale, you become intense, you become tense... And the normal, ordinary emphasis is always on inhalation"

breathing and fear

Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have in a recent study discovered a clear physiological difference between inhalation and exhalation with regard to fear activation. They discovered a heightened activation of the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation as compared with exhalation, with neurons across the limbic system being stimulated. The limbic system controls our most basic emotions and drives, such as fear and survival. 

The study found that participants could recognise fearful expressions more quickly if the image was encountered during the inhalation, and also that memory recall was better during inhalation. 

The research seems to align with the physiological connection between breathing and the 'fight or flight' fear response. When in a panic state, breathing becomes faster, and someone will spend "proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state" according to Christina Zelano the study's lead author. So inhalation is a more activated, tense state, which could confer an advantage in a life or death situation, but is not the ideal state for us to live in all day every day. 

And of course, meditation and mindfulness practices are the best way to harmonise the breathing and bring it back to a natural balance. Thereby allowing the autonomic nervous system some respite from the fear and anxiety activation of fight or flight.

a simple mindfulness experiment

The problem according to Osho is that we are afraid of exhaling, and this is why the breath has become so shallow in most people. Indeed, Osho offers a self-experiment to do around inhalation and exhalation: "The whole day, whenever you remember, exhale deeply and don't inhale. Allow the body to inhale; you simply exhale deeply. And you will feel a deep peace... With inhalation you will feel more egotistic, with exhalation you will feel more egoless."


citations

"Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016

"From Death to Deathlessness" by Osho. Chapter 53


Boundless Sky offer mindfulness practices for modern people in south London. We offer Osho Active Meditations, as well as somatic breathwork and other methodologies for personal transformation. Based in Greenwich, close to London Bridge and Canary Wharf.