Pranayama, also known as conscious breathing, is a three-part breathing technique practiced by the ancients, in which a gal or guy takes gulps of air into the belly, pushes it up into the chest and blows the healing wind out hard. The Sanskrit word means "extension of the life force", and it's a practice that moves one's energy throughout the body and opens a person to new joys, emotional and physical healings, and perhaps a visiting spirit or two.
Pranayamaniacs in Seal Beach meet in an office space near Pacific Coast Highway and Bolsa Avenue. The cozy little room was filled with the scent of sage upon the OCeeker's graceful entry, where he was surrounded by about 20 kind folks seeking deliverance from all manner of maladies, from the physical to the spiritual.
Sidenote: The OCeeker went dumbass and forgot to bring a blankie on which to sit his tight and porcelain patooty. Oh well, he kicked off his shoes and took his place between a younger man on the left and an older man on the right. They were white too.
Breathe deep the gathering gloom
The group of spiritual breathers was made up of a variety of ages and hues, both male and female. They were led by John Rozenberg, an intuitive healer who uses modern and ancient practices to deliver seekers into self-actualization. He kinda looks like Kenny G.
A gentle soul with a dry wit, Rozenberg welcomed veterans and newcomers alike, encouraging us to hold hands and begin breathing in our circle. Being secure in his heterosexuality, the OCeeker had no problem clasping hands with two strange men, warming them with the Irish blood that courses through his playboy palms.
We were asked to share why we there, and wouldn't you know it sweet flock o'mine, the OCeeker was last in line. Yer boy said he wanted to learn about the craft, and avoid the bars for the night. The chuckle-inducing quip was a mere setup for the Charming One's next line, which, naturally, elicited the biggest laugh of the night: Can we do this in a bar? The OCeeker has jokes.
Upon our little confessions, the spirits paid us a visit. Rozenberg said they joined us as we opened our inner beings to one another.
"A lot of helpers came in," he said. "And they tend to talk all at once."
Rozenberg said the breathing alleviates stress. Breathing through the mouth brings awareness to our bodies; breathing through the nose brings awareness to the mind.
Then we turned off the lights and got on our backs. Now, by this time, blankets and pillows had been brought into the room for those who needed them, so guess who unfolded a couple of the purple kind and supined himself on the floor, crowded as it was with torsos, limbs and bare and funky feet, in the encroaching darkness of night?
That's right, ye heathen, the OCeeker was so close to another soul's soles that he actually rubbed little piggies with him at one point. The OCeeker's little piggy had roast beef. His little piggy had none. In the middle of the meditation, the OCeeker's other little piggy went wee-wee-wee, all the way to the restroom.
Rozenberg, armed with shaman feathers, explained to us that breathing into our heart centers pushes out old beliefs and connects us with our guides, and Source. He also shared a word of encouragement for the self-conscious.
"And remember not to take yourself so (seriously)," Rozenberg said. "You are, after all, lying on the floor with 17 other people, huffing and puffing. How serious can that be? So have a laugh. Laugh at yourself a little. Laugh at life a little."
A dedicated and tender teacher, he led us through about an hour of orgasmic breathing as New Age and nature sounds purred through a stereo. One man wept loudly.
Now, not to get pervy on you people, but if you had walked by our blessed little pen of Pranayama, you may have mistaken the sounds of the spirit for that of an orgy. At the cue to give more sound to our gasps, the room heaved with the howls of men and women alike, all flat on our backs and exhaling ecstasies to the heavens. The dark room sounded like a whorehouse on fire. It was not unlike the night before in the OCeeker's life, when his bulldog and a babe sat at his feet and looked longingly into his eyes. Guess which one made him Pranayama?
As for the OCeeker's meditation, he was lost in the black world of his own thoughts, often pondering loves lost, and a bacon cheeseburger. While his arms grew numb and his face stiffened from the breathing, he thought he felt the overspray of a neighbor's breath mint fall upon his glorious visage. Later, the tender touch of a Rozenberg digit could be felt upon the OCeeker's be-wrinkled forehead, as he anointed his guest with oil. Le sigh.
|Breathe again...breathe again|
Our group-groping for higher power eventually abated to a quieter hum. Rozenberg called our spirits back to our bodies, and we opened our eyes to newness of life. He told us that we have the choice to move toward a purpose, or away from it.
"Remember that the work continues, if you choose to continue," Rozenberg said. "We get to choose to be asleep or aware, conscious of our choices, or choose unconsciously. I want you to remember to breathe, and remember to choose wisely. And remember that you can always change your mind about your choices. Nothing is permanent."
He then instructed us to hug at least three people.
The OCeeker gave Rozenberg's meditation four out of five chakras. A New Age sage indeed, perhaps a question-and-answer session at the feet of the master would make a chakra-holic out of noobs taking their first taste of Pranayama.