The Breath and beyond
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
I want to write about something so simple we never even think about it. Something so natural we forget to use it, so easy we almost find it hard, but something so powerful it can transform any situation.
It’s not something we have ever been taught to do and hence tend to just do it however we started doing when we landed on this earth. More often than not our breathing is restricted by lifestyle and emotions such as fear and worry. We don’t give ourselves room the breath; we don’t honour that innate life force by taking time to enjoy open spaces and just breathing deeply.
Even though I have spent 10 days in silence, meditating on the sensations of the breath on my nostrils, that the last thing I do before I launch myself off the back of a mountain into knee deep powder is take a huge breath and when I am teaching my nieces to jump on their ponies and not be scared I remind them to breath, I know that I myself have not tapped into this magical source enough in the past.
However life events have lead me to seek guidance and losing my father suddenly this January left me incurably empty, insecure and in desperate need of an opiate. Once the primary rush of organisation and duties were gone and jarring of the shock and trauma began to soften I found myself waking at 5.30am every morning in a blind panic. It felt as if I was being sucked into a huge vacuum with nothing to cling onto, I had lost my tummy on a nasty fairground ride and didn’t know how to make it end or I had accidentally stepped off the edge of the world into nothing but sadness.
As I lay there in bed I couldn’t even move and just found myself breathing. I pulled so deeply on the breath, sucking it into every cell in my body as if I wanted to get high from it. Long purposeful breaths initially of desperation and anguish eventually turned to inhalations of strength, understanding and supportiveness. I don’t know how the breath does this, but I do know that it works; it is our life force, our inspiration. Something so fundamental we have failed to see its power.
There are always moments in the day when a few deep breaths could save our ass. From responding nicely to someone who has annoyed you or just making you feel more confident and alive in a moment of self doubt. So when our mothers said “Just breathe” they were right.
I spend my life teaching people to breathe, for an hour I tell my yoga students when to take every inhale and exhale. We move on every breath, creating a movement meditation. It can be as simple as opening your arms wide as you inhale and bringing them to prayer at your heart as you exhale. Even this basic invocation can be extremely powerful. It is an honour for me to guide my students to a more connected place. A place of clarity and calm but more importantly of centeredness and true authenticity.
It has become wildly obvious to me over the recent years that the breath is a key and our best kept secret. A tool to relieving our suffering and anxiety as well as experiencing the fullness of bliss.