Pranayama requires quite a bit of counting. Counting, repeatedly, for a substantial period of time collects and focuses mind and gives Pranayama a meditative quality. This is especially apparent when each part of the breath becomes longer. But, like most practices, I eventually got used to it. I developed an automated and regulated internal rhythm and my mind would wander off during long counts.
I recently made a change to my Pranayama practice – introducing longer exhales. During recent sittings I’ve experienced how much pure and simple concentration affects practice. If my mind wanders during the shorter breathing cycles, my breath doesn’t falter (I can get away with it). But, if I lose focus and wander off during longer breathing cycles, I come up short and the length and quality of the breath may be compromised. In fact, if I am focused and steady, I can easily accommodate the practice – the challenge is more in my mind then in body.
My focus is improving, my mind is becoming steadier throughout a practice session and now I have noticed something else happening. A new kind of distraction appears, a wonderful distraction. I am experiencing bursts of creativity – ideas and answers to questions appear out of nowhere, rapidly & clearly. New ideas and answers to existing questions flood through my mind, so much so that I am tempted to break my practice and write them down. I don’t. I try to let them pass through me and rejoin the ticking metronome. It’s harder to do with creative thoughts then with plain distractions.
I have experienced this before, but the extended breathing cycles have increased the frequency of these occurrences, so I was able to identify a pattern. I am involved in numerous projects but I have a very spacious day. I am not constantly preoccupied with challenges and questions, I let things simmer slowly and I have faith that insights, solutions and ideas will appear on their own (and they do!). This is to say that I do not begin a practice with disturbances on my mind – I am not actively searching and hunting for solutions. So when insights appear to me in this way I consider them miracles of creation – they come from beyond the mind.
I don’t remember all of the ideas that appear before me. When they appear I don’t grasp at them – I try to gently let them pass and then refocus on counting and breathing. Some of the ideas are available to me later when I conclude the practice. Others disappear, I trust that the ones I truly need will reappear, and the rest will dissolve or remain hidden me for good reasons.