Nine months prior to our Chartres pilgrimage, we received a video of the 5.5 Breath, encouraging us to virtually connect using the 5.5 Breath. Once together in Chartres, every morning and after breaks, we breathed the 5.5, breathing in for 5.5 seconds and exhaling 5.5 seconds – which takes 5.5 minutes.
It turns out this breathing technique, scrupulously studied and described by author James Nestor in Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art has roots in all spiritual and religious traditions, e.g., Buddhist, Daoist, Native American, African American, and even in sacred songs in Latin such as Ave Maria. With the Buddhist chant, Om Mani Padme Hum, for example, each spoken phrase is 6 seconds long with a 6 second pause to inhale. The Kundalini yoga chant, Sat Ta Na Ma is the same. 5.5 seconds is also the length of saying the 17 syllables in a Haiku poem.
Even more amazing are the effects of even just 5 to 10 minutes of 5.5. Willing subjects were covered with sensors and asked to recite a Buddhist mantra and the original Latin version of the Ave Maria. The blood flow to the brain increased and all the systems of the body entered a state of coherence where the heart circulation and nervous system are coordinated to the highest efficiency. And… after two months, 5.5 significantly improved the lungs of even 911 survivors – who had an incurable chronic cough. Many other research studies were described.
The author’s biggest teaching, one he personally overcame – along with his grave illness, was NOT to breathe through your mouth – the nose was assigned that job – a long time ago. He cited many examples of ancient sacred and medicinal texts warning people NOT to breathe through the mouth. Despite the warnings, the modern world has become increasingly shallow mouth breathers!
If you have any type of lung, sinus, congestion, stomach ailments or if you snore or have sleep apnea to mention a few, you should read his book. His top solutions, lightly tape your lips closed at night and the 5.5 breath.