Your relationship with your breath is your most precious relationship. From your first breath to your last, your most intimate meeting is continuously taking place. The quality of this meeting, can dramatically shift the overall quality of your life. But we, each and every one of us, can so easily take for granted the autonomic nature of the breath coming in and going out from our lungs and just run on auto-pilot, missing our most intimate relationship altogether!
Just like most of us are unaware of the other autonomic functions within our body. The heart beats continuously throughout our lives providing oxygen rich blood to all of our organs, unbeknownst to our conscious minds awareness. The liver, kidneys and colon are busy all the time filtering waste out of the blood, detoxing, extracting and digesting nutrients. And on it goes with the list of organs that are working full time on behalf of keeping homeostasis in the body, such that we get to have a human experience.
My sense is that God is a rascal! Giving us this secret entry into our entire system. With the autonomic function of the breath— being the only autonomic function in which we can consciously participate, it is our golden key. For those who wish to utilize the many doors of consciousness and cellular organization that this key can open.
The breath is directly reflecting how much one wants to feel. How much one wants to open and literally receive life. As well as how much one wants to let go. This receiving and letting go function is so essential for regeneration and the felt sense of connection to ones place in the eco-system.
Quite literally our breath is the medium that passes through the semi-permeable membrane of our bodies in symbiotic exchange with the oxygen from the trees and the green ones. As we in turn offer the carbon dioxide that is essential nutrition to the trees. If we really contemplate and feel the reality of this essential bond with our planet, it is quite profound. For how could we not feel a sense of our most intimate purpose from this act of belonging, alone?
The thing is— with this vehicle that carries the human capacities to feel, to emote, to think and to sense… we can get so taken over with these strong movements of mind, emotion and sensation. Add to that all of the meaning making and narratives that we add to the mix of these naturally occurring capacities.
The Yogi’s and mystics of many traditions speak to this situation by laying out how we tend to get pushed by our negative mind ( the voice that’s always looking for the problem, the danger, the enemy) and pulled by the positive mind ( the voice that always looking for, “what’s in it for me?”). Then there is the ‘neutral mind’— or the neutral heart— this we have to cultivate to develop our access to this more subtle sense of self. The neutral mind/heart is the dimension of self that is only interested in the reveling and unfolding of ones Dharma. That which is true. Felt as Stillness. Experienced as reality. There is no tension to it. Only an intuitive recognition.
As one recognizes that it is a choice to cultivate, honor and follow this quality of inner presence, one becomes grace prone. As if there is a joining with the already wise, already whole intelligence that is the invisible force, the prime conductor directing the currents of this grand symphony called, Life.
There are breath patterns related to all of the states of mind that I am pointing to. When we have emotions, thoughts or experiences that we resist feeling— that we do not want to allow into our hearts—we will unconsciously suppress the breath, in an attempt to push the feelings down into the basement of our unconscious. The breath becomes shallow and stagnant as an expression of the negative mind. The tissues of the body become dense and the cellular functioning is compromised. Quite literally the body takes on a more acidic condition making it prone to disease process.
Likewise, when we are chasing ( positive mind- “whats in it for me”) experiences, the breath can become tight, sped up and only taking place in the shallow’s of the upper body. We drain the vital forces by ‘choosing too much’ as we become more and more disconnected, toppling over ourselves into the hopes, dreams and fears of our imagined future. This scenario will eventually exhaust your adrenals, cascading into all kinds of secondary conditions, compromising your ability to stay connected to your authentic self, your real needs, feelings, and soul impulses.
All teachings of truth, ultimately point to the practice of the middle— the sacred space or holy neutral in which our natural presence emerges and infuses the body/mind and heart with an inner coherence.
The breath is a powerful way to reclaim your neutral mind & heart. It takes slowing down enough, that we can begin to consciously extend the breath into the abdomen and even into the root— the perineum of the body. Taking deep, slow, sensual breaths into the lower body and expanding up through the torso, the rig cage and the through the heart is a direct way to calm the nervous system, creating more sympathetic/parasympathetic tone balance.
When was the last time you made love to your breath? I mean really allowed yourself the space to feel the nuances of the breath coming in with a tenderness, an affection — an inner sense of both receiving and being embraced? Enjoying the pleasure of letting the breath go, the pleasure of the breath returning. So simple and yet such a profoundly substantive blessing.
We can begin to let go of the myth of scarcity. As we experience directly, our innate sufficiency, breath by breath.
This does not require special circumstances. In fact this can be the primary business that you attend to throughout the day, going on behind the scenes as you go about all of your daily ‘humaning’. Cultivating a deep, slow, systemic belly breath that flows through the heart as the back drop of your experience is an empowering way to gently begin to reclaim yourself and your life. You naturally become more responsive and creative, rather than reactive to your moments. Restoring equanimity and innovation as a new baseline.