Note: The following is the original instruction from Hazrat Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan to his mureeds
concerning the daily purification breath practices and an original teaching on purification itself. It comes from
the archives of Ziraat Germany from our brother and European Coordinator, Firoz Holterman ten Hove.
TOWARD THE ONE THE PERFECTION OF LOVE HARMONY AND BEAUTY, THE ONLY BEING;
UNITED WITH ALL THE ULIMINATED SOULS WHO FORM THE EMBODIMENT OF THE MASTER,
THE SPIRIT OF GUIDANCE.
The Twenty Breaths of Purification
This exercise must be done without noise or apparent movement in the breathing. The finest substance in the air, the essence, ether or Prana, only is inhaled. The ideal times for this exercise are, from an occult point of view, sunrise and sunset. During the first three months, the twenty breaths should be felt to reach the solar plexus [note: in this case the solar plexus means the heart]; during the second three months they should be felt to reach the navel; during the third three months the abdominal region; and during the last three months the base of the spine. The last manner of breathing should be continued during the second year. The rhythm becomes slower and slower every succeeding three months. This exercise should be done standing, preferably outdoors or before an open window.
For nasal Catarrh (stuffiness), cleanse with water to which has been added one part (baking) soda and two parts salt. For lung trouble, this exercise should be done in the sunlight, inhaling the rays of the sun. In this purification practice, there are twenty breaths to be taken in the morning, before food, standing, unless it is prescribed for a person to lie down or sit:
• 5 breaths in and out through the nostrils
• 5 breaths in through the nostrils and out through the mouth
• 5 breaths in through the mouth and out through the nose
• 5 breaths in and out through the mouth
Natural breathing is done with the mouth shut; the breaths inhaled and exhaled through the nose are the natural breaths. And in this exercise, when the mouth is open, it should be opened only as a little hole, as in whistling. Special care must be taken not to breathe longer than a normal rhythm. Special attention should be given to stand quite relaxed and in no way force the breath, but to let it find itself its own rhythm. The exercise is done rhythmically, naturally, without any effort, maintaining the same rhythm throughout (therefore it must not be started to slowly), without movement of the shoulders, and without sound.
You are inhaling the subtle thread of air called Prana (Life, Essence of breath, in fact God Himself) contained in the external air that we feel and it revivifies, heals and purifies, nourishing all the invisible centers of the body, whose centers through which we experience the spiritual life, and with which we learn to know Spirit. When the technique is mastered and the breathing done regularly and easily, then practice the exercise faithfully each day, whilst holding the thought and consciousness that you are inhaling the Divine Essence. It is not merely a physical exercise (although it helps you to breathe regularly and rhythmically), but it is also for the enfoldment of the soul.
It also teaches control and rhythm, and helps you to attain a habit of healthy, serene breathing. It is like the winding up of a clock daily. Begin the day with the exercise, and you will acquire the habit of always breathing rightly. Gradually the idea and consciousness of what you are inhaling with every breath becomes a natural habit, and part of your life.
The exercise is the basis of many esoteric exercises and should be mastered before you can understand further mysteries.
Purification is most essential for mureeds, for on this their progress depends, and all delays and failures in the journey towards the goal are caused by its neglect. There are three ways of purification:
1. Purity of mind, which is achieved by six different ways:
a. by thoughtfulness in passion
b. by forgiveness in anger
c. by indifference in affection
d. by independence in temptation
e. by humility in pride
f. by generosity in jealousy
This can be attained by seeing the Immanence of God in nature by harkening to His Word constantly, by breathing His breath continually, by being sustained by Divine Food and by having no other contact save that with God.
2. Absolute Resignation to the Will of God: to trust and lean on Him and to have no other object in life save union with Him. Purification of the soul depends upon the knowledge of the divine. No matter how pious a person may be, he can neither advance nor improve until his soul is purified of the Ego, which always ends to draw it back and hinder its advance.
3. Purification of the Physical Body, which is accomplished in 5 different ways: By earth, water, fire, air and ether. Each element requires in the first place its own element for purification and then the element approximate to it in the sale of ascent: water purifies earth, while fire purifies both water and earth, air purifies all four.
For all things made of earth, although they are cleansed by water, yet if earth or some kind of powder could be used, being their own substance they would be more effectively cleansed.
Water is always purified when mixed with a greater quality of its own element. The scientists also clean it of all impurities by the help of fire, its nearer element. Water, once warmed and again cooled (i.e. distilled water), is considered to be sufficiently pure to be given to sick people and removes all impurities.
Fire is purified by fire; this can be proved by the fact that dim fire is kindled by a brighter and more intense fire as well as by its nearer element, the air, which draws it up by its power, all appertaining to earth, water and fire are kept fresh and pure by the air, in the absence of which they decay.
The purifier of air is air, for no matter how bad the air of the closed room may be, as soon as the windows are opened the fresh air at once purifies it. Air is also purified by its nearer element, the ether that is as vast as space. Naturally the air of the town is less pure than that of the country.
All the properties of earth, water, fire and air have their existence and expansion and purification in the ether. In the absence of water, earth can serve to clean the palms of the hands and soles of the feet by striking them against it and this absorbs all impurities. It has been proven scientifically that pure earth is a good disinfectant.