Breathing is the liminal gateway between inner and outer being—the place where the life within and the life without meet.
From the first inhalation to the last exhalation, every breath is an affirmation of life here on earth, each breath a microcosm of the eternal cycle of birth and death. We breathe life in, we breathe life out, living through the inspiration and expiration of each and every moment.
The quality of our breathing mirrors the quality of our living—shallow in fear, deep in love, steady in relaxation.
Have you ever noticed that you were holding your breath without realizing it? The way we breathe is a barometer for how we are, letting us know whether or not we are in flow, receptive to the vitality of life within, between, and around us.
Since ancient times, the breath has been used as a focal point to revitalize, balance, and integrate body, mind, and spirit. Simply noticing and fine-tuning how we breathe on a regular basis reconnects us with the flow of life and changes our experience of living for the better.
When we pay attention to our breathing, we learn how we are while also reconnecting with the flow of life. We ground our experience in the body, metabolizing experience on a cellular level. As our hearts and lungs expand, our whole body receives more oxygen, our blood pressure decreases, and our heart rate slows.
We attune to the energy flowing through us. Our minds instantly begin to settle, inducing a state of deep relaxation and overall well-being. We feel calmer and think more clearly. This is the heart of the yogic practice of pranayama—attentive breathing.
Notice your next breath—how it begins, ends, rises and falls within you. Notice if it is warm or cold…smooth or raspy…Notice where it moves…where it flows…where it catches.
Does it fill your lungs, your belly, your heart? Does it fill your eyes, your fingertips, your toes? Notice the space between each inhalation and exhalation. Breathe into every cell.
Notice how you feel now.
So often we take breathing for granted until those times when we are unable to breathe regularly. Perhaps over-exerting ourselves with physical exercise or sick with a cold or afflicted with allergies, we temporarily become aware of our breathing and the importance of breathing with ease. When everything from talking to walking to sleeping suddenly becomes a challenge, we realize how much our breathing influences our experience.
Yet, to breathe is to live. Breathing with awareness reminds us to regard each moment as a gift, to remember that there is indeed no time like the present. Each moment of life time is a moment that we can choose to gratefully embrace as the time of our life. The only lifetime worth living is the lifetime of each moment.
Each breath is a kiss of life. Learn to kiss back.