Friday, January 12, 2018

Getting breathed

We get breathed all the time, starting with that first cry we made on emerging from Mom to now.  I write "get breathed" because it can really feel that way.  From several sources, I learned that using my abdomen to open my lungs increases my capacity to inhale.  Consciously taking action to "improve" seems natural but to sit quite quietly and relax enough to feel my body take its own breath in its own time, to its own depth, is surprising.  When I drop any effort to change my breathing and just feel it happening, it is very clear that something other than the conscious director ME is deciding when to breathe, how long to inhale, how long to rest and how to exhale.  

All sorts of descriptions and observations can be made about the breath.  Recommendations and alterations can be created and tried.  Various breathing specialists counsel deeper breaths, more complete exhalations, slower breaths, quieter breaths, faster breaths, noisier breaths.  If I try for the highest number of breaths per minute that I can muster, the "breath of fire" (not the video game but the yoga practice) is the thing.  It can shake me up and energize my whole body.  There are some good YouTube videos on breath of fire and many others on breathing.

A common piece of advice for meditation is to "follow the breath".  Having just listened to Dr. Andrew Weil, I much prefer the wording "observe your breath."  We could say "Get into your breath."  If you sit quietly and relax and let your body decide when to take a breath, it is amazing.  Something in you knows it is time.  You can feel your lungs take in air and you can feel your exhalation. If you want, you can get all worried.  Will there be another arising?  What if the force forgets?  Then, happily, another breath arises.  And this has been going on 24 hours a day since you were born!  How can you not be stunned by your amazing self?

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