Soul in the World
If you are alive, you are breathing. In a healthy body, the lungs, heart and tissue are involved in an intricate dance, every moment of every day. As we breathe, our bodies are continuous motion. Our arms, ribs, spine, pelvis, abdomen......our entire body moves with each breath. In a healthy body, this is all done involuntarily. We would last only minutes without breath.
Think about eating. We take time to go shopping and choose foods that we like and that nourish our bodies. Most of us set aside time each day to nourish our bodies with meals and snacks. We may look up recipes, try new foods, or create a delicious meal and often share it with others. In a healthy environment, this is all done voluntarily. If we make bad food choices, eat too quickly or eat without being mindful, our bodies will let us know. If we don't have enough food or proper nourishment, we will suffer. We would not last more than a couple of weeks without food.
What if we decided to give as much attention to our breathing as we do to food?
Imagine setting time aside each week to practice breathing, just as if you were going shopping for food. You would come to know your breath quite well - your likes and dislikes. "Hmmmmm, shallow breathing isn't very satisfying, but this deep breathing feels very relaxing and energizing." Once you become familiar with your breathing, you might decide to set aside certain times in the day when you would breathe intentionally. In your daily life, you might notice when your breathing feels nourishing or times when you are not breathing so well. Perhaps you would decide that you would like to share in some breathing with others.
The wonderful added benefit of paying attention to your breathing, is that it brings you back to the present moment.
When you are distracted, busy, or stressed your thoughts are being drawn into the future or the past. Even when you become still, you may find that your thoughts pull you away from where you are. Simply by bringing your attention back to your breath, you are in the present once again. Each time your thoughts draw you away, you come back to your breath. This is one of the first and most important practices that is taught in many traditions around the world - returning to the breath. As is true with most things, your practice of breathing will be enriched when you spend time doing it alone and with others.
Your breath will never fail to keep you in the present moment.
A Simple Breath Practice
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
(Breathing in) Dwelling in the present moment
(Breathing out) I know this is a wonderful moment.
~ Thich Nhat Hahn