Viva la vida

In the tomb painting below, Nefertari is reborn to eternal life:

The nose is the most sacred organ in the body because it metabolises the life force. Hinting at an Egyptian version of royal pranayama, it clears our physical, emotional and spiritual obstacles by boosting the flow of energy. Breathing through the nose warms, moistens and conditions incoming air. It also mixes the flow with nitric oxide (NO) that kills bacteria and works as a vasodilator on airways, arteries and capillaries.

Most importantly though, the brain moderates its state via the nose. By exploiting the olfactory nerve’s influence over the pituitary gland the hypothalamus can regulate its level of stimulation—breathing through the right nostril tends to activate awareness; breathing through the left tends to calm it. As the brain modulates its states, the passage of air through the nostrils shifts in dominance every few hours.

Above: the Circle of Willis and the olfactory tracts

The right nostril is the accelerator. Breathing this way speeds up circulation and increases temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. It also activates the sympathetic nervous system and feeds more blood to the left side of the brain which boosts our logical, analytical and rational sensibilities.

The left nostril is the brake and is more connected to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a relaxing state that lowers temperature and blood pressure and reduces anxiety. The left nostril shifts blood flow to the right side of the brain which handles creativity, emotions and abstract thought.

So our bodies operate most efficiently in a state of balance, pivoting between action and relaxation, doing and dreaming. As each side of the brain is stimulated in turn, oxygenated blood is regulated via our biological Ankh. Aside from regulating blood flow between the right and left, forward and rear parts to the brain, this biological Tree of Life also balances the roots (the trachea, bronchi and bronchioles) with the branches (the neurons). Blood even carries our genetic memory, as acknowledged by Carl Jung:

Who has fully realised that history
is not contained in thick books
but lives in our very blood?

Breathing through the nose then, balances the brain. Once upon a time, the fertile blood of Isis was interpreted as the waters of the “river tree” we call the Nile. Spirit then, came from the French espirit, which originated from the Latin spiritus (soul, vigour, breath). Inhaling through the nostrils was known as the “breath of life,” leading to rejuvenation.

So what is alchemical breathing? According to mystics, the optimal rhythm was every 11 seconds. This means 5.5 second inhales through the nose followed by 5.5 second exhales via the mouth. This works out to about 5.5 breaths a minute. Despite our perceptions, we actually uptake most of our oxygen during the exhale. When we become conscious (thoracic) of our unconscious breath (diaphragmatic) we awaken in the dream.

Your lungs have three different aspects, just like the Holy Spirit. When you activate them you start to excite the Kundalini. Elsewhere, this is known as the Tantra Kriya Yoga System. As the secret figure eight within the human body, it improves memory and concentration and rejuvenates body and mind. You will look younger and more vibrant. Eventually, you will enhance and deepen the relationship with yourself and others.

Vibration also affects vasodilation—airflow oscillation produced by humming increases sinus ventilation and thereby nasal NO levels. In fact, NO increases 15-fold during humming compared with quiet exhalation. In a model of the nose and sinus, oscillating airflow caused a dramatic increase in gas exchange between the cavities. Finally, as a neurotransmitter, NO acts in the nitrergic neurons active on smooth muscle, also abundant in the gastrointestinal tract and erectile tissue. 

NOSE = Nitric Oxide Sonic Exchange

So we can combine nasal breathing and humming in order to achieve immortality. Once the eternal nature of our breath is recognised, we can exhale and inhale between physical incarnations without losing consciousness. So the rejuvenation that is bequeathed by Isis (top) is actually a rebirth into eternal life:

Be conscious of your unconscious breath
As you dive the dangers of the depths.
For the spirit can only be whole
When immortality is named
And claimed by the soul.