Understanding breath

Nair, Sreenath (2015) Understanding breath. In: Understanding Breath, Centre for Medical Humanities, University of Durham.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

There are scientific and cultural ways of understanding breathing. The scientific understanding of breath includes bio-neuro feedback showing the effect of breathing in the psychophysical organism. The cultural understanding of breath includes traditional methods of breathing practiced in a range of Asian religious and medical traditions. The paper proposes two ways of understanding breathing: clinical and anthropological. Clinically, respiratory symptoms are the primary indicators to any psychophysical conditions of the body. We can easily observe the connections between certain emotional conditions and respiratory symptoms such as emotional stress, anxiety and acute fear. A great number of behavioral activities including speaking and emotional responses are coordinated by respiratory mechanisms of the body. Brain studies over the past several decades offer laboratory evidences showing the influence of respiratory functions across the range of cognitive, emotional and physical activities of the organism. Anthropological understanding of breathing draws techniques and concepts from Hindu/Buddhist teachings, martial arts, traditional medicine and Asian performance practice. In Asian thoughts and bodily practices, air is considered as the most significant matter, a profound principle and an underlying source of human life as well as cosmic evolution. In Zen Buddhism, differentiation of schools are clearly marked the way they handle breathing. The paper proposes a comprehensive way of understanding human respiration in order to develop a breath-based practical approach to actor's training, expression and emotional wellbeing.

Keywords:Drama, Consciousness
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:19758
Deposited On:09 Dec 2015 10:31

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