A fascination with the breath…
Meditation has been a wonderful tool for revealing perspectives to me, that have not made themselves readily known during the bustle of my waking day. Over the past 8 months or so and after too many years of neglect, I have rekindled a fascination with my breath. An involuntary mechanism of this fleshy vehicle that humbly performs its duties each day. It started with an introduction to the Wim Hof method, a breathing retention and cold water therapy technique for reconnecting with ones physiology and ultimately, having some authority over it.
This morning during meditation, I had a front row position for the performance that was my monkey mind. Not an uncommon experience for many a meditator I’m sure! And, as many of these experiences go, the performance had an enthralling quality that captured all my attention. There was little awareness of the fact I was sitting on a cushion in a quiet room, it may as well have been a Colosseum showcasing all manners of mental ramblings.
And then, something happened.
As the crescendo of rapidity reached its climax my body involuntarily took a deep breath and the entire show vanished from existence. There I was, in a pristine, calm space, no Colosseum in sight. Now, of course this is not such an unusual event in its own right. Most days I can find this space of pure presence during meditation, yet, the insight that came to me throughout this process is really what compelled me to write about it this morning, rather than go about my day. I’ll attempt to sum it up with 1 line:
The breath is the book end of your life and the metronome of existence.
When a baby is born, its time of birth is determined from when that first breath is recorded. An average person will breath approximately 672,767,999 times before their last. Every action & thought are predicated by a breath. It is the one unifying aspect of the human journey.
I look at my Facebook feed and see such richness of humanity, in all its inspiring and joyful forms as well as its destructive and twisted forms. From amazing musicians, inspiring stories and works of art, to tragedies of murder, terrorism and greed. The spectrum of experiences is as vast as our capacity to breath them into existence. For me, I really get why practices that enhance the role of the humble breath are so important right now. The experiences that we breath into existence can take us on a roller coaster ride. Some are short and fun and bring us back to the station, while some are a runaway experience far from our centre. As I get busy in life, I can feel the pull of the runaway train — a momentum that builds inside me taking me further and further from my station. The practices I have included in my daily routine allow me space to take those journey’s far into the busyness of life, without becoming trapped by them — most of the time :).
The world today seems to be growing in its polarisations. From Brexits & Trumpets, Flat earthers and climate curses, alternate facts mixed with Russian hacks, all of which were breathed into existence, by someone, somewhere. As each side grows in its distance from each other, we should be reminded of our similarities - to be reminded to breath and not get lost in the Colosseum of life.
I had a little exercise come to me as I wrote this down. Have you ever wondered how many breaths something took to create? It could be anything, I’m looking at my water bottle right now and it’s got to be at least over 100,000, right? From the idea to create it, to the planning and design through to the manufacturing and delivery into my hands. Or perhaps, looked in another way — how many breaths will that comment, or post or phone call take? How many breaths are you requesting from another in response? Our breaths are the largest marketplace of all. Now, to read this and to feel protective of your breaths is not the intention of this post at all. Use your breaths freely, appreciate the breaths returned your way and by all means have your debates, your teams and your prides.
And when I say your, I mean me, and when I say me, I mean you and we and all of us in between. ;-). We all start at the same station on this roller coaster of life. =)