Myth and truth about breathing

Intro to Buteyko Breathing

I love it when everything I thought I knew on a particular subject gets turned upside down! A while back I discovered that deep breathing was exactly what I did NOT need to do more of. Do you gulp air in between sentences when you talk, and sing? Most people aren’t even aware they’re doing that, but we could greatly benefit from retraining our breathing patterns.

Even if you think you know about proper breathing, please read on, because this is actually quite different from what is commonly taught as healthy breathing practices.

A Russian physician named Constantin Buteyko discovered some important principles of breathing in the 1950’s, and the breathing method he developed has a long history of safe and effective use. It corrects hyperventilation, which causes many common disorders, and surprisingly 98% of us are actually hyperventilating as our usual way of breathing!

The Buteyko method is sometimes known for treating asthma or panic attacks, but really it’s for everyone who can’t hold their breath for 60 seconds comfortably!

The Buteyko website says this about what it can correct:

“Most of all, diseases, which often accompany bronchial asthma: chronic rhinitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, hypertension, and stenocardia. Bronchial asthma and stenocardia are only 2 distinctive models, which effectively demonstrate application of the Buteyko method. However, these are, by far, not the first diseases, which can be successfully treated using the Buteyko method.

Normalization of the immune response removes appearance of various forms of allergy. Improvements in blood supply and oxygenation of the whole organism make application of the Buteyko method efficient in solving problems which are connected with toxicosis of pregnancy, sleep disturbances, insomnia, snoring, sleep apnoea, and also for a wide range of neurotic diseases of the nervous system.”

This is based on the fact that CO2 is actually not purely the waste gas we think it is. CO2 actually helps to make O2 available to the cells, by releasing hemoglobin. This is known as the Bohr effect. Without enough CO2, you can gulp air and still not feel like you’re getting enough.

This is the situation not only with asthmatics but with people who have chronic anxiety, panic attacks, depression, any condition associated with stress, all kinds of nervous and immune system disorders, cardiovascular disorders, migraine, etc.

The Buteyko reduced breathing practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows for the relaxation response. Our chronic hyperventilation is keeping us in a state of fight-or-flight all the time, where the sympathetic nervous system is stuck in the “ON” position rather than turning off most of the time when it’s not needed. We’re really not being chased by bears all the time, to be honest. And we waste loads of energy and stress many vital functions when our metabolism is stuck in that crisis mode.

Nuts and Bolts

Now, to introduce you to what a beginning Buteyko routine might look like..  And I also want to emphasize that this is just an introduction to the topic. Many people will have a better experience with coaching by a Buteyko practitioner to learn many of the more subtle aspects of the practice. 

First to define some terms:

CP = Control Pause. you sit quietly, breathe normally for a minute or two, then after an exhale (don’t try to exhale every last bit of breath, just exhale naturally) hold your breath comfortably and time how long you do that before you get a strong urge to inhale. if you have to gasp or gulp air after that, you’ve gone too far; do it again. you should just be able to resume normal breathing after that. it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. a little strange, maybe, but not uncomfortable.

This is used as a diagnostic and also as a measure of your progress. if you are below 40 seconds, the Buteyko method is indicated.

RB = Reduced Breathing– this is breathing shallowly but also slowly. you sit comfortably, or reclining, and allow the breath to get “smaller.” A helpful technique i use is just noticing the breath. don’t try to do anything to it; just watch it, and it naturally gets smaller. you can put a hand on your belly to feel it rising on the inhale and going down on the exhale. You watch the movement getting smaller. also notice that there is a natural pause after the exhale, but don’t try to extend it. just “intend” to breathe smaller and slower.

A Beginning Routine:

  • Do a CP
  • Do 10 minutes of RB
  • Do 3 minutes of normal breathing
  • Do a CP

This is one set. The number of sets you need to do depends on your particular circumstances, but a general recommendation is to do one set 3x/day the first day, then increase the number of sets up to a total of 80-90 min of RB each day.

If you’ve done it correctly, the last CP should be higher. The RB is the real therapeutic part of it.

There are many variations on this, and as I mentioned before, it’s highly recommended to work with a Buteyko practitioner to guide you in practicing the method correctly and safely especially if you have health issues.

Highly Recommended Reading:

Book: Close Your Mouth, by Patrick McKeown

The best book on Buteyko theory and practice, it describes several other simple Buteyko practices that are suited to various needs.


Water, Water Everywhere

2006, updated 2014

We all know that water is essential to life and that we’re supposed to drink up. We usually think of hydration as a matter of drinking enough quantity of water, assuming that everyone absorbs this essential substance in the same way.

But hydration has new meaning when we look beyond biochemical processes to the biophysical function of water. There’s a lot more to the story…

Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, says that the root cause of most chronic health problems is chronic dehydration. Of course it’s not quite that simple, but it does makes sense that we should pay closer attention to what it really takes to get ourselves hydrated.

Hydration on the cellular level is a matter of transfering hydrogen into the cell, and hydrogen transfer is the function of the essential life energy called orgone. This is the special function of water, which is different from the solvent function by which it dissolves and flushes toxins out of the cell. Hydration itself regulates all functions of the body, and water is not just a mechanical carrier for regulatory substances.

Water that has a high orgone content could be called living water, such as artesian well water. Artesisan water is water that bubbles up, which means that it’s gone through a long compression process and is now “mature,” containing levity forces which are necessary for consciousness. It’s low in minerals as watershould be, and high in orgone.

You could assay a living water biochemically and find it to be very similar to other forms of purified or spring water. But biophysically it’s very different. Biophysics is about true function, beyond the biochemical constituents or processes. The living water will enhance the function of cellular hydration because of its crystalline structure. Processed water such as tap water lacks this crystalline structure. This means that you could drink large quantities of tap water and still not be hydrated!


Solé is a 26% concentration of salt in water. When natural crystal salt, such as Himalayan crystal salt is dissolved in water, the water will naturally come to that saturation point, and that’s the solé. Water and salt represent the basic polarity of the two primordial forces of the universe – the radial, nether or earth forces; and the spherical, upper or cosmic forces.

This is the polarity that generates life – it’s the constant pulsation of compression and expansion that animates the universe. Wilhelm Reich was the first scientist to demonstrate this pulsatory nature of the universe. This is so significant, because we can’t get too far without the pulsation of the universe!

It’s this dynamic saltwater polarity represented by the solé solution which carries information for all life functions – the nether vegetative functions as well as the upper consciousness functions, which “marry” to create life.

Solé represents superconsciousness in that the crystal salt is merged in oneness with the water – the two resonate as one and yet the salt retains its own identity (individual freedom) when the water evaporates. Then on the cellular level, the solé facilitates hydrogen transfer to the cell, which releases electrons and is the basis of all organic energy systems.


In the face of dehydration, which the body perceives as a crisis, it manifests many symptoms well before we become aware of needing water via thirst or dry mouth. In other words, the body is crying for water before we even have overt signals. 

If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Even in the midst of an abundance of water, it’s “waterwater everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” On a cellular level, the organism becomes armored against receiving the abundance, and can’t become hydrated. It’s a bit like the way we become shy in love if we’ve been rejected before, and we’re a little defensive and not so quick to open up again. The cellular stress then causes more dehydration in a vicious cycle, as the condition of dehydration itself uses up water.

This stressful situation is actually a biological trauma which triggers disease, as the German physician Ryke Geerd Hamer discovered. (Dr. Hamer’s body of work is called German New Medicine – see my article on that).

Dehydration on the psychic level as well as on the somatic level – dryness of thought and rigid attitudes – can lead to disease, especially diseases which have to do with a poverty mentality and suppression of the generative power of the life force.

Chronic dehydration then weakens the generative power, and so it can be carried to offspring, who inherit this dryness in the form of the Psoric miasm. (The chronic miasms are the inherited predispositions to disease, which we’re born with but don’t necessarily activate.) Dr. Hahnemann discovered that the essence of Psora is dryness and deficiency. We call this a kind of “glass half empty” or poverty mentality. And Dr. Reich taught that dryness resulted in a contraction, shrinking or damming up of the life force leading to disease, which he called “shrinking biopathy.”

So there is plenty of research about the effects of chronic dehydration, and much of what people are suffering from when they go to the doctor is a form of dehydration. Yet the doctor gives drugs to suppress the symptoms, many of which are just the body’s “many cries for water.”


The best quality salt is natural crystal salt, such as Himalayan crystal salt. We all need salt – it’s just the poor quality table salt that causes many imbalances and should be avoided. But crystal salt is well tolerated by most people, even those who think they need a “low-sodium” diet. (Try buying low sodium foods and adding your own crystal salt!)

Table salt is refined sodium chloride, biophysically “dead,” acid-forming and dehydrating, and toxic because of other additives.

Sea salt from the oceans may contain pollutants, and although it has a crystal structure to some degree, it’s not the superior crystalline structure of crystal salt. The nutritive elements remain on the surface of the structure and aren’t integrated into the crystalline structure. And actually, what’s sold as sea salt and hyped as such a healthy alternative to table salt, is pure white, which means that it’s been refined, so it’s not much better than table salt.

Rock salt is the original form of salt that has not become “mature,” has not developed a crystalline structure, and so the minerals can’t be properly absorbed.

Crystal salt has been sufficiently compressed so that the minerals are ionic, and the crystalline structure has become matured, which allows the minerals to be absorbed.


Beverages are drinks that contain 50 or higher TDS (total dissolved solids). Even herb teas really aren’t hydrating. When TDS is high, hydrogen and electrons are bound up, and can’t be released to the cells. So for each beverage taken, even if the beverage is nutritious, an additional glass of water is needed in order to maintain hydration.

Water should contain high orgone energy like artesian water, but it’s not always easy to find. Good options are filtered water, ideally non-fluoridated, and then re-energized by placing it on a small orgone generator. Or even just put a few quartz crystals into the container and let it sit. Even better, run the water through a vortex. There are small plastic pieces that fit between two bottles to create a vortex by pouring the water from one bottle into the other.

Some people advocate exposing drinking water to sunlight – not a good idea. The best quality water comes directly from the ground, a very dark place!


Depending on the person’s level of activity and other individual factors including health issues, each person needs roughly 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight, daily. Divide body weight in half, and that’s the number of ounces per day.


Living foods such as raw, unpasteurized milk from healthy, pastured animals, and fresh, raw juices also provide the living matrix that promotes proper hydration. Fresh, raw coconut water is great.

Then there’s raw milk..

Aajonus Vonderplanitz was a brilliant raw animal food researcher who advocated drinking plenty of raw milk instead of water. And there is a history of “milk cure” that has been a very powerful therapy for a wide range of health issues. It has none of the problems associated with pasteurized milk, as pasteurization denatures the protein and renders it indigestible. Commercial milk products should never be used, but their raw counterparts are supremely healing. See the recommended books below. Today, raw milk can be difficult to find, but some sources may be available from local farmers.

Marine plasma is another source of living water (used as a supplement not for everyday drinking water. ) The original research by Dr. René Quinton is available online.


The deeper issue of hydration takes us to the mental/emotional realm, where we need to look at how we become armored on deeper levels of our being and can’t take in the “juices” of life. We know when we read something that’s dry and lifeless, it’s not physically dry, of course, but the phenomenon of dryness is there. It’s lacking the kind of moist warmth that’s characteristic of love and life.

When people are “dry” in this way, they become resistant to and unable to take in the living water of life energy. And they become dehydrated on the cellular level, because what’s going on at the physical level is the reflection of what’s going on at the psychic level.

Sometimes they can’t get hydrated no matter how much living water they drink, and that’s because the psychic level needs to get hydrated in order for the cells to become receptive to the water they need. But also by continuing to drink living water and exposing the cells to the water they need, that helps open up the pathways for the resistance to free up and for the organism to accept the loving energy of water.

Getting hydrated often involves releasing mental/emotional blockages in various ways – through Medicine (the Heilkunst system), which destroys the blockages that impede energy flow and lead to emotional armoring; and through the mental and spiritual practice of releasing the false beliefs and fears that aren’t part of who we really are.

The process of remediation and soul/spiritual development is a bit like becoming juicier! We let go to dissolve ourselves in the living waters of life. And yet we maintain our individuality, our consciousness intact. This pulsatory function of dissolving and emerging, dying and living – it’s the movement of life. Think about that next time you drink a glass of water!

Recommended Reading:
Water and Salt: The Essence of Life, by Dr. Barbara Hendel
Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, by Dr. Batmanghelidj
Milk Diet, by Dr Charles Porter
The Raw Milk Cleanse, by Allyson McQuinn

A Deeper Look at Dynamic Regimen

Here are some further thoughts on the topic of nutrition from a “dynamic” view, which addresses a deeper level of function beyond the biochemical model.

Let’s start with something our inner wisdom already knows – there’s a real difference between a “living” food and its overcooked, pasteurized, microwaved, or industrially processed counterpart. The difference is chi; prana; orgone energy. But what needs to be examined is how that energy actually works to nourish us.

What we’re really extracting from foods is not the biochemical constituents, not chemistry but energy. At the cellular level, we can see that process as hydrogen transfer – that’s why pH (hydrogen potential) is so fundamental.

Foods that sustain life are like little packages of condensed energy. What we’re doing when we eat food is essentially breaking down and appropriating the energy of the food. These forces within the food are foreign until we take them in and overcome the foreign forces and make them our own. That process is mediated through heat, and that’s what digestion is really about.

How do we come to a rational understanding of nutrition?

The problem we run into in understanding how nutrition works is that we have the language of chemistry and the concepts of energy, and we tend to use whichever one is convenient, or try to mix them together randomly rather unconsciously. We might be comfortable talking about chi or life energy in a certain context, but when it comes to nutrition we tend to want to stick to the material view and explain things in terms of chemistry, because that’s the realm of sense perception and perhaps easier to look at.

Our organs of sense perception and our ordinary cognition is more developed than the more etheric, supersensible knowing, so we use what comes easier. But to be able to grasp the meaning of the flux and flow of function, we need to develop a more etheric thinking that can see the living properties of things beyond the material level. This is what has been called the Dynamic view.

The entities and substances we’re looking at aren’t static and fixed in time and space – in this view, eating a fresh raw vegetable might be functionally identical to a practice that generates chi. The intellect looking at the material chemistry would see a big difference! But functional thinking sees a distinction rather than a separation. It sees the continuity, the same underlying phenomenon.

We need a deeper physiological basis for bridging the gap between chemistry and energy. Otherwise we have a sort of schizophrenic split between on the one hand the mystical realm of energy, and on the other hand the materialistic realm of only what we can perceive with the senses.

So we have to look at energy in a way that can be grounded in the cellular structure. The way that nourishment functions, there’s an etheric process going on whereby we use radiant energy from the sun, indirectly through food, air and water, and generate internal light. There’s actually a physiology of this inner light metabolism.

This is a true physiology that’s about the deeper functioning of forces and energies which drive the biochemistry. (Rudolf Steiner laid out this understanding clearly, although extracting it from his writing is quite a workout!)

There is a critical difference between “living” foods and processed foods. “Living” water such as artesian well water could be assayed biochemically and found similar to other forms of purified or spring water. But looking at it biophysically, it’s been seen that the living water will enhance the function of cellular hydration, because of its crystalline structure, whereas processed water doesn’t. The materialistic view will just see all water as functionally equal, and focus on the presence of material toxins as making the difference.

We can sense the difference in food and water that has a lot of life energy – they feel better and taste better. That sensing is through supersensible organs, not sense organs, and isn’t measurable in the same way, but it’s no less real. Even if we’re not yet conscious of how we’re using those supersensible organs, we still know that there is something more behind the outer structure of things. No matter how microscopically we might analyze it, there’s some living quality apart from that, which we resonate with.

We can see on the biophysical level what happens when we remove the life energy from food and water. Industrial processing destroys the inherent crystalline structure which is the key to the life-giving property of food. Crystals transfer information, so at that level it’s really the information – consciousness – that we’re internalizing by taking in nutrients. Generate your own inner light, and live in truth, and you may not need to be concerned about ingesting living foods!

Although, then we’d be guided by the higher spiritual function of Reason, and resonance which is based in love would solve the problem of what to eat.

Most of us are still in the process of transforming our relationships based on attraction (potato chips, yum!) to those based on resonance. When we eat heavily processed food which is attractive but doesn’t resonate, it becomes like a dead weight, an energy drain. Animals fed on microwaved food for a month starved, although they had access to as much quantity of food as they wanted.

Some processes like culturing foods or natural fermentation or sprouting actually enhance the crystalline structure and bring out life energy especially when it’s dormant in seeds, and that’s why traditional cultures have always used those methods – they knew the benefits instinctively if not consciously.

Seen from this perspective, living foods like raw milk from healthy animals have little in common with their commercial counterparts. When we hear about the problem with milk, it’s about the commercial, pasteurized dead material that’s sold as milk, not the live food that it was to begin with.

Those live foods are suited to us, because the biophysical function of those foods promotes inner light and life. Then we need to determine whether a particular food is resonant with our particular typology – according to various typology systems such as metabolic typing, glandular typing, blood typing, Ayurveda, etc., and take various other factors into account to put together a proper diet plan.

But aside from individual needs, we need to understand the functional reality behind nutrition. Let’s look at the way that carbs are stored as fat when we don’t need any more for biological function. We assume that we’ve simply eaten too much or the wrong proprortions of macronutrients. Or we look at smaller and smaller units of biochemical substances and relationships to try to explain what’s going on.

But digestion and metabolism has a supersensible or subtle energy function in the astral body, which is prior to all that. The breakdown of food is a function of the astral body. When the astral isn’t proprely engaged, even a diet that looks perfectly suitable to the person in theory won’t be handled properly. (The Kidney is involved in this astral function of properly transforming food and generating inner light).

The astral takes us to the soul level, so this is how we can begin to bridge the gap between body and soul – they are really a functional polarity, which is not just an abstract concept but something that we can ground in actual physiology.

What are the real principles that determine whether a vegetarian or meat diet is appropriate for a particular person?

The choice to eat meat or not is an emotionally charged issue for most people, and it taps into deeply held beliefs.  But we can look at it from a dynamic view.

Plants contain etheric forces which are easy to assimilate, whereas animals contain more astral forces which require more energy to break down. This doesn’t mean that we should always go the easier route and eat only plants!

And depending on how the animal was raised, the quality of the astral forces will be different, hence animals raised on pasture and killed properly will yield more digestible food than factory farmed animal foods. And it will ground us in the body, which creates an important balance for many people.

So the choice depends on the dynamic physiology of the individual and which functions they need to stimulate and strengthen.

Animal foods are grounding, and good for a person whose “upper” bodies (ego and astral) need to be grounded in the lower metabolic pole.  For those who need the grounding and incarnating properties of animal foods, a more vegetarian diet even if done meticulously with the highest quality foods can be profoundly weakening.

A more vegetarian diet frees the  consciousness from the earth pole, which is why it’s favored in certain spiritual traditions.  When the upper bodies are too deeply incarnated in the earth forces and need to be freed up, then a vegetarian diet is appropriate.  Often the diet a person needs will change from time to time according to these functional changes; particular health challenges presenting at a particular time; typlogies such as blood type, body/glandular type, etc.

Another aspect of this issue is that animal foods with their higher astrality challenge us to bring our own digestive forces to bear to strip away the foreign astrality. If the ego/astral forces are weak, it can be difficult for the person to break down those astral forces in the food, and the foreign forces lead to food allergies and immune problems. Eating animal foods raw instead of cooked can mitigate this problem to some extent, as the raw food contains more etheric forces that are easily assimmilable.

Vegetarian diets are in this sense less challenging especially if the person doesn’t have strong ego/astral forces. But less of a challenge isn’t always what we need – it’s the challenge itself that strengthens the upper forces.  We want to provide just enough stimulation for the activation and development of our own forces, but not so much as to overwhelm our resources, just as a good teacher finds that balance with a student in any learning situation.

When you’re sick, you want to concentrate on the etheric and not challenge yourself too much with breaking down the astral forces of higher protein foods, so you can take meat broths and the raw foods that are more easily assimmilable.

Recommended reading:

Water and Salt: The Essence of Life, by Dr. Barbara Hendel
Nutrition: Food, Health, and Spiritual Development, by Rudolf Steiner