Esoteric practices are not done in view of obtaining positive results for personal purposes, but rather with the object of attuning one's consciousness to an Ideal, which can eventually become a source of inspiration, for the benefit of others.
Understanding of this principle one is confronted with an Ideal that one is eventually determined to follow altruistically, resulting thereby in the revelation of Divine energy, hidden behind the human "I" concept.
A 'principle' one develops more and more will power, and when released from that 'principle' one finds oneself standing alone with the acquisition of will power. It then becomes obvious that the 'principle' only lived on the life of one's own wil! power, and one is thereby confronted with the temptation of becoming just as intoxicated with that newly discovered 'will power', as one was previously with one's principle.
In other words, whatever one concentrates upon becomes sooner or later the source of a 'power' by which one can become intoxicated, unless one is prepared to liberate oneself from the acquisition of that power, in the discovery, that it was not one's own, but was only lent for a time and only was a 'power' at all, while one entertained the illusion that it was one's own.
Murshid Hidayat Inayat-Khan Katwijk, the Netherlands, July 2000
RHYTHM The importance of rhythm in all spiritual practice, and particularly in breathing exercises, cannot be emphasised enough. The breathing practices presented here are done with a metronome set to 60 beats per minute, except where noted as being "an open rhythm', in which case no count is maintained.
GAZE Unless otherwise noted, these breathing exercises are done with closed eyes, which naturally encourages greater awareness of any inner experience the practice might offer.
What we generally know as the breath is that little inhaling and exhaling which we feel through the nostrils. We think that is breath and attach little importance to it, while in reality, breath is a life-current running through the innermost part of man's being towards the surface. It would be no exaggeration, according to the mystical point of view, to say that the breath connects heaven and earth. ... For the mystic, breath is not only a science, but the knowledge of breath is mysticism, and mysticism to the thinker is both science and religion. The mystery of breath is not a thing that can be comprehended by the brain only. The principles of mysticism rise from the heart of man. They are learned by intuition and proved by reason. ...
Rhythm is the principal thing to be considered in breath, as it is on the rhythm of the breath that the working of the whole mechanism depends, and the chief reason of irregularity of the beats of the heart or head is lack of rhythm in the breath. As man generally neglects to think of his breath he overlooks the fact that his health entirely depends on rhythmic breath. Rhythm is the central theme of the whole creation. Therefore the infant moves his hands and legs by turns, forming a rhythm. This shows that nobody teaches anyone rhythm, it is natural to all beings. It is the rhythmic movement, which enables the fish to swim, and the serpent to climb trees. If rhythm were not an instinct the animal would never have known how to walk or the bird how to fly. The life of man is so pulled from all sides, so divided, that he often forgets things that are most essential to his life, which the lower creatures seem to keep more correctly in their lives. Neatness in man's work and balance in man's actions show rhythm in him. When man shows lack of balance in his life and when his life is disturbed and all things seem to go wrong, it is most often that the rhythm of his breath has become wrong. Irregularity of activity and repose in the habits of life causes disorder of rhythm in the breath.
Very often the eastern mystical exercises are wrongly understood by many. When a teacher gives a breathing exercise to his pupil often he does not mean the breathing itself but rhythm. Thought given to the breath becomes a weight upon it and naturally holds it longer in its movement, altering it from what it would otherwise naturally be. It is the following of the rhythm of breath, and the keeping of the rhythm regular, which brings about the best results.