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Sep 05 2011

The Breath of Life

by Elaine Drolet

How are you breathing today? That isn’t exactly a question you hear in casual everyday conversation. For most people, breathing is just a natural and automatic action they do minute after minute, hour after hour, day in, day out without even thinking. But there’s more to this automatic motion by the body than just the circulation of the oxygen essential to life. It’s also about how we relate to that life. Breathing provides amazing insight into who we are and what is happening inside us at any given moment. It can be a highly effective tool for examining and understanding ourselves in order to make the right decisions in a variety of situations. In this article, I want to take you on an exciting voyage of discovery to help you discover your breathing.

Breath of Life

1. Birth: drawing your first breath

Cradled in your mother’s belly, you were preparing for a major milestone of your time on earth. Your life was entirely dependent on your mother. You breathed through her. But soon enough you were introduced to the world and to your first crucial decision: live or die. It’s been said that mothers give life, like it’s a gift. It’s yours to accept or refuse. You accept by breathing. From the moment of birth, you have only a few seconds to choose to live. It’s the first thing we do as independent beings with free will. Some cry “yes” loud and clear; others hesitate and need a bit of encouragement. Others even say “no.” This is no ordinary question, because it can subconsciously affect your entire relationship with the human experience. It can be interesting to ask your parents about your first breath, because it can reveal something about the basic foundation on which you’ve built your existence.

2. The rhythm of breathing: the cadence of life

Breathing reveals your inner vitality. It’s like your heart’s chronometer. It gives you a clear idea of your state of mind that day. Irregular breathing indicates scattered worries. If you’re holding your breath, there is probably fear or anxiety in your life at the moment. If your breathing is fast, you want something right now. If your breathing is slow, you need time to deal with something you’re facing. Your breathing helps you commune with your inner self every day. It helps you quickly understand the nature of your needs and guide your actions in order to quickly rejuvenate your energy. Pay attention and draw your own conclusion.

3. Depth of breathing: the heart of existence

Breathing has both rhythm and depth. We often breathe shallowly, meaning the air we draw in doesn’t get past the thorax. That’s very symbolic of how we treat ourselves as human beings. When we say “give me some air,” it’s because we feel crowded by the people and events that fill our lives. It’s a way of demanding the space and freedom to live. Deep breathing, the type that draws air into the pit of your stomach, connects you directly to your hidden inner essence. It can be a little disconcerting at first, because it can bring to light previously hidden pain. However, by confronting this pain, we can overcome them. Deep breathing is about giving yourself some air, and freeing up some space inside yourself. There’s a reason why every form of meditation uses breathing as a building block of higher consciousness.

4. The decision to breathe: the power to live

Breathing tells you a lot about who you are, but what’s really fascinating is that it can make a big difference in who you become. Over the last decade, the growing amount of evidence of the benefits of meditation have allowed us to analyze the neurological wiring of the human brain during breathing, which has revealed a tendency to go farther in life. This observation is based in part on a movement called “heart rate coherence” (HeartMath Institute, California), which uses regular breathing to send positive, soothing messages to the brain, even in stressful situations. By breathing six times per minute, inhaling and exhaling five seconds every time and repeating for five minutes, practitioners can attain a state of serenity that is more conducive to careful thought and decision making, even under stress. Doing this at least three times per day during specific periods on a regular basis has been shown to increase mental flexibility which, like physical exercise, strengthens the mind and makes it better equipped to face everyday challenges.

Breathing isn’t just extraordinary, it’s essential. There has been a shocking increase in breathing-related illness in recent years. For example, asthma is more widespread than ever. Of course, many different factors are responsible, but it’s interesting to note that this is also symbolic of our current attitude toward life. Try paying more attention to your breathing and see what you learn about your inner love of life and those around you. Breathe consciously and savor the joy of living in the moment, right here, right now!

About the author

Without a pedigree to show a specific role to play, I am Elaine. I define myself in relationship to others, like a mirror, an experience. Every day presents me with the opportunity to discover who I am. My senses reveal life to me in all its beauty and depth. My heart beats to the rythm of sensitive encounters, the laughter of children, and life's everyday pleasures. I am without age, gender or nationality. I live in the universe or rather the universe lives in me. I am as indistinct as I am vast, as nationality. I live in the universe or rather the universe lives in me. I am as indistinct as I am vast, as abundant as I am empty, as limited as I am infinite. It's wonderful. I breathe, I feel, I live, like you do...

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