Breathing with Strength & Courage
Do you remember how Tarzan used to yell at the top of his voice and beat on his chest with his fists? This isn't just a Hollywood cliché, he was imitating the battle cry of the African gorillas. This gesture does more than intimidate a gorilla's enemies, it helps them feel strong and centered in the face of danger by promoting a strong outflow of breath and preventing their pectoral muscles from tensing in fear. This natural method of breath-control is just as effective for human beings.

The Tarzan Technique is more than a physical exercise that increases one's feelings of confidence by strengthening the flow of their breath. It is a powerful mind-altering technique that should be practiced in conjunction with meditation on the breath. When Tarzan is practiced in meditation, it releases the fear-ridden blocks in our breathing, cleanses subconscious layers of anxiety from our mind and body, and increases the amount of healing prana that flows through our system.

You can deepen and strengthen your breathing by doing physical exercises such as jogging and swimming. However, exercise alone will never enable you to release the blocks in your breathing or cleanse old layers fear from your system. These abilities are only available from within the meditative state of consciousness. So whenever you work with the Tarzan technique, always remember to stay in meditation by watching the movements of your breath.

The following set of instructions will teach you how to do The Tarzan Technique. Read them several times (to fix them in your mind), then sit in a comfortable meditation posture and spend about ten or fifteen minutes learning to work with Tarzan. This is how it's done:

1) Sit in a comfortable posture and focus your attention on the movements of your breath as the air moves in and out of your body. Once your mind is attuned to these rhythms, on one of the inhalations, take in a little more air than usual. As you exhale, make a strong and continuous sound of "ahhhh," and beat on your chest with alternate fists like Tarzan. Be sure to pummel your chest vigorously enough to make your voice crack (but not enough to hurt yourself) and let the sound arise from your chest, not your throat.

2) Continue for five or ten seconds (always remembering to watch your breath), then stop, and give your breath a chance to assimilate the invigorating waves of energy which this technique releases.

3) As your breath readjusts its tensions, study the changes that are now taking place in your breathing. Notice how much faster your breath is moving. Notice how much more open and your free breathing has become. Notice how much more alive you feel in mind and body as the new waves of energy go coursing through your system. Once your breath has restabilized its movements (this usually takes from thirty to forty-five seconds), you're ready to do another round.

4) During the course of a twenty minute meditation session, you may do as many as twelve (discretionary) rounds of Tarzan to enliven your breath. As soon as it's moving more freely, simply return to meditating on your breath without trying to influence its movements.

When making the sound of "aahhh," don't sing it like a musical note or "yodel" it as Tarzan did in the movies. Without disturbing your next door neighbors, just make one steady, firm and protracted sound, "aaahhh." Each time you repeat this technique, do it a bit differently. For example, you might begin by beating your chest relatively slowly and gently, then a bit faster and stronger with each succeeding trial. You can also experiment with making the sound louder or softer. Whatever you do, be sure to pummel your chest vigorously enough to make your voice crack, always remembering to watch your breath.

People who suffer from hypertension, cardiac problems, breathing disorders and anxiety attacks can gain much benefit from regularly working with this technique. However, they should practice it very carefully at first, with a firm, unforced sound and a gentle tapping on the chest for no more than five to ten seconds at a time. Once they are breathing easier, they can work a bit more vigorously. People with extremely severe feelings of anxiety or shortness-of-breath should avoid working with Tarzan.

Some people notice dramatic changes in their breathing after their very first round while others don't see much difference until they've done two or three successive rounds. If your breath seems to be responding slowly, there's no need to worry. Just do the technique a few more times and you'll soon find yourself breathing with greater ease and feeling much more strong and alive.

Andy Caponigro, internationally known "master-of-breath," is a former concert guitarist who has been healing people with the powers of the breath since the mid-1970's. He is the author of "The Miracle of The Breath: Mastering Fear, Healing Illness, and Experiencing the Divine" (New World Library, 2005). For more information visit: www.miracleofthebreath.com.