“How many times do you breathe in a minute?” The teacher asked the class of trps students, a training course for income tax return filing. “When I say ‘START’, begin counting your breathes and after one minute I will say ‘STOP’ then you all have to stop counting and tell me the number of times you have breathed in one minute.”

In February 2007, I was one of the students of this class. Every student stated the number of breaths around 18 except me.

“It can’t be 5!” He said surprisingly. “Chandrika, do not take long breaths like in pranayama. Just breathe normally.”

I counted again by taking short breaths as much as possible. This time it was 7! I must be doing it incorrectly. Leave it. My mind went back to the teacher’s voice.

“A normal person breathes 12-25 times in a minute. I am breathing 32 times in a minute and my doctor tells me that I will not be able to live a long life like a tortoise.” He chuckled. “He asks to quit smoking, as I am chain smoker. I drink heavily on weekends and I love nightlife. I have a girl friend, she is C.A. like me. Tell me something about yourself, any student.”

The students were as bore as the subject.

He would then explain where they first met, what she liked, what were their future plans. All of sudden he would then start teaching the subject matter again. He used this trick to grasp the attention of students, as most of us were non-commerce students with no knowledge of income as well as tax. Moreover, we found it too difficult to focus on advance level of the subject matter without any foundation of money matters. He must be the only teacher on earth to teach income tax with a tinge of romance!

Now, I stay in Delhi and NCR. In polluted air, my normal breathing rate is 2-3 times per minute. If I am in a forest, sanctuary or in Himalayas then it drips. When I am doing meditation or pranayama it drops further and sometimes stops for a short period.

A person with stressed mind will have shorter breaths and a person with peaceful mind will have longer breaths that mean a tensed person will breathe more number of times in a minute than a calm person. If a person is in deep thinking or meditating then the breathing will be slow or suspended for some time. The breathing becomes irregular and unsteady if the mind is filled with negative emotions like anger, jealousy, envy and hatred. Mind and breathing are interrelated if you control one the other will be controlled involuntarily.

The easiest way to slow down your breaths is to exhale for longer time. Inhale gently and exhale slowly and completely. One can also practice yogic breathing with the proper use of diaphragm. Breathe in slowly; expand abdomen, then rib cage and finally the upper portion of lungs. Make the maximum use of your lung capacity. While inhaling imagines that, all the positive virtues like happiness, joy, peace and calmness are moving in. Breathe out gently, contract abdomen, then rib cage and finally relax upper portion of lungs. Concentrate on the air going out and imagining that all the negative emotions like anger, fear, hatred and stress are moving out.

How many times do you breathe in a minute? Count it. With practice, slow down it to experience happiness from within.

P.S. 1. Pic – Sketch is drawn by me.

2. Good news is that the number of students in Digital Library has gone up to11 in the month of October. Thank you all for your support, blessings and prayers.

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Chandrika Shubham Saini

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