Words ≡ Breathe Deep
An Exercise in Reconnecting Your Breath to the Words That You Write.
(Some Huffing and puffing around words).
The Breath is Never Too Far Away From Words.
Ask any poet — words live in breath. Thoughts and concepts take shape between the inhales and exhales. Words live in the relief space between respiration, they are carried on breath. They literally are conceptual frames swimming in an ocean of breath.
Is it really so different on the page?
It’s easy to disconnect the breath from words. Breathing calms the mind and centers the self. While words can sometimes seem to fire the mind and throw the self to the four points. Not to mention when you write on the page / on the keys there is a real mechanical process disconnect from breath to words.
Birth of the Written Word
At some point in the distant past — at several global locations, independent of each other— linguistic utterances overlapped with sophisticated systems of encoding that could transcribe one set of sounds into symbols and back again (with fair precision)into those very same ooos, uggs and ahhs.
Oral traditions of many cultures eventually turned to the somewhat handy concept of the written word. Preserving complex and deeply nuanced traditions of narrative story telling that we are only getting back to now.
The art of saying, telling, singing stories is old. Older than written words. But deep in it’s practice is a long forgotten often neglected rhythm. The ins and outs of life sustaining breath.
And Rest — Punctuation is Breath Notation.
The spaces between words are where breath lives in writing — the mighty comma functions as a nice little micro-nap or rest — a bit of air for the turn of sentence and concept. Not to mention our good friends — the dash; the semi-colon and the full stop. The basic building blocks of language are markers for breath and a little space for the mind to catch up with intuitive and predictive forethought.
While thou dost breathe, that pour’st into my verse
— Shakespeare, Sonnet 38
The rhythm of breath is deeply built into the rhythm of words.
These catchy little rhymes and rivulets of human experience condensed into mnemonic marvels have trickled down the centuries often without being consciously preserved or maintained. they seem to rather they live independently on their own an almost symbiotic parasite of thought (a philosophical tangent for another day). Whether Shakespeare’s sonnets or folk ballads — rhythmic word workings have tended to sail on peaking and troughing waves down the oral tradition river of time. The beat is tied into the stream. A rhythm and frequency (waves) we live in. Expressed ALL THE TIME in words.
It’s the rhythm of that damn writing heart. Beat.
Air and Music — a framed focus
A whole gamut of ancient traditions get us to imagine the amazing quality of life with a full and even breath. The power of the breath is an old and tested remedy for both reset and live, crackling, electric power. It’s main function and objective — getting a mind to the immediate gateway and conduit to the expressive moment of now.
This is where words breath and where breathing as a writer can be a powerful force. Focus and flow, breath in and breath out. Words in words out. You are the breath the breath is you, there is now words, the paradoxical wisdom at the heart of every koan or parable.
What if we became masters of the deep breath and flowing words?
The very undulating rhythm of life surging along with the rhythm of words…
Word Wizardry is Made of this.
Imagine a kind of writing;
- more directed than the stream
- nourished by the breath — sustainable
- Grounded in the underlying rhythms of language
- liberated from the mind
Sounds like a dream?
AGAIN — We actually do this unconsciously, ALL THE TIME.
Focus state / Flow state
The bolt of lightning idea, comes to a conductive, receptive mind. A mind that is open to it’s own greater voice. The greater singing voice that rolls along in your head while you tip, tap, tap, tip, tap, clunk away on the keyboard. The looping spiralling word maelstrom that harmonises — weirdly now, think about it — with the ink and wand like pen as you sing the pen nib to scribbling shapes of pulsing thought condensed to collectively agreed upon symbols…
Breath in / Breath out
Reading guides this unconscious, deep-mind processing. Every book you’ve ever read informs the writing you are currently practising. All of those words and phrasings come together in a swirling matrix of lexicon.
Every sentence you’ve ever set eyes on informs your inner word stream. Other written expression becomes your air. There at the end of the bookcase is another world, a portal to powerful fields of description and poetic reception.
Getting there. First Steps of breath.
Most — if not all — of your best writing happens when you are ‘in the zone’. A field of possibility that we really stumble through daily. This ‘zone’ is accessible to you all the time, 24/7 it is never really shut off to you. Obtusely, the very thing blocking you from this land of infinite power is your own damn well idiot sense of self. Get out of the way!
Have you considered what this often throw away comment actually means? What it really means for you? What does being in the ‘zone’ feel like? What does this buzzkill, party wrecker of the self look like? Do you even recognize yourself when you are actively blocking the way? Do you have rituals or habits to encourage being in this ‘zone’? Can you connect to this alleged ‘Zone’ even now?
Why not try…
A Little Breathy Action
- start to inhale,
- and fill up just a little more…
- pause for 1…
- and exhale
- and 4,
- out through the mouth — very good.
- Let it all go,
- think — surrender / nothing matters / release
- — totally.
- Do this a couple of times — really let all the crap exit the self on the exhale — send it off, it’s no longer welcome here.
Think benne-gesserit, but the super-human, awesome, planet ruling powers are actually very human, rooted in the ceaseless — until dead — practice of breath.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune
Kill the mind voice. but don’t be hard on yourself, just acknowledge anything that comes to mind as what it is ‘thought’, don’t punish it, just send it on it’s way. See for a minute if you can place yourself there, riding the waves in and out of breath. Stretch your fingers out over the keys, click the crap outta that ballpoint badboy and go! Write! It will catch, a twitch, a skip, a leap out of your chair and shriek Eureeka! moment is yours. I guarantee you will at least breathe deeply and possibly even sigh. That is the breath reconnecting with your real, emotional, expressive self.
Now… get the hell out of the way and watch it come.
The words will hit the page like never before.
The Cauldron of Transformation
Explore this space! What does it feel like? Is it quiet? Is it Busy? Is there any overthinking? Even if your style of writing has this tone or edge of overthought — think someone like David Sedaris — the words themselves aren’t pouring from overthink, lean in closer, you’ll see they are coming from somewhere else. I know it sounds esoteric as hell and I really don’t blame you if you scoff and are currently composing a million retortive comments back to this piece of written advice. But it works.
Welcome home writer. YOU have arrived. You are at the point of engagement with symbolic reality — the place of definitions. A place where the breath and deep self will see you sorted.
Breathe deep seek words.
— is a poetic word wrangler, eagle-eyed editor and narrative wizard.
His five-ways copy and six-armed research style is known throughout the seven digital kingdoms.
His true weakness is stationary.
Find him at flipping word burgers @ www.loganramsay.com