Breathing — the most intimate relationship. And like all relationships, it can be conscious or unconscious.
Caught up in your head, breath becomes unconscious. Tightening with anxiety or contracting in fear, breath becomes shallow and closed. Resistance to taking life in fully, breath becomes incomplete. When inhale and exhale do not meet each other as two equals, but instead one is longer or shorter than the other, an internal struggle is set up that reflects an external battle with existence itself.
A conscious breath changes everything — a big “Yes” to life, a deep relaxation into all that this moment offers. Softening into breath, you embrace whatever is happening with love. Soft belly and relaxed breath transcend small-minded likes and dislikes and allow open-hearted ok-ness with what is. Being aware of breath rising and falling, you enter the timelessness of the present moment.
When in-breath and out-breath meet in relaxed harmony, a cycle of continuity is completed — giving and receiving flow into each other and become one and the same. In-breath is how you take in life, how you welcome in the invisible world of energy and transform it into the molecular world of oxygenation. It is an act of creation in which you are born into the newness of this moment. Out-breath is how you let go into life, how you release back into the unseen world that which has been processed. It is an act of surrender, a death of all that we are in preparation for the rebirth into the next moment.
A complete breath heals the separation between matter and spirit. It’s a union that takes place in your heart, both metaphysically as well as in the tangible language of biology. It is in your heart that the biochemical conversion of respiration into energy for life takes place and it is in your heart that you experience the unified wholeness of being. Every time you breathe, you move beyond form to formlessness. The space between the inhale and the exhale is where you meet God.
Bringing the full depth of your presence and the full breadth of your openness to your breath, you come into right relationship with all that is. When you breathe, you take in the same air that has been breathed in and out of every living creature since the beginning of time. Through your breath you are one with all that exists. Breathing is an act of love, a holy communion with existence itself.
I invite you to take a moment to notice how your breath is right now. Are you aware of your breath or are you caught up in your thoughts? Take a moment to sit comfortably and consciously deepen your breath so you become aware of the rise and fall of your chest. Can you feel the sensation of air moving through your nostrils as you inhale and exhale? Keep focusing on your breath — long, slow, soft inhale. Take in the fullness of this moment exactly as it is, feel your body open to embrace life. And when you are as full as you can be, just let go. Let it all out, surrender back into the flow — long, slow, soft exhale. And allow yourself to relax deeply into this moment exactly as it is.
And now I invite you to go a little deeper. Bring your attention back to your breath. If you notice any tension in your body, consciously focus on that area and breathe deeply and softly into it. And allow yourself to let go of the tension on the out-breath. Keep doing this until your body feels more relaxed.
Now see if you can become aware of the gap between the in-breath and the out-breath. It’s a gentle pause in which nothing happens, just stillness. Can you feel it? Don’t try too hard, just be softly aware of it. It’s as if you are resting on a cloud — pause and then allow the inhale or the exhale to happen.
As you keep breathing consciously in this way, you may get a sense of your body becoming lighter or you may feel a subtle vibrating energy running through you. As you relax more deeply, you may get a feeling that your physical boundaries are dissolving. Enjoy this feeling, breathe deeply and softly into it. This is form becoming formless — you are entering the timeless dimension of inner space.
Breath rising and falling, nothing to do but relax right here and now. Enter deep into this moment, deep into this space. If you become aware of any physical sensation simply move into it more deeply and breathe into it. You may feel your body becoming translucent or you may feel it becoming very expansive. Breathe softly and deeply into this feeling and let yourself fall into the limitless space of now. Simply let go into the boundlessness of your inner nature. Enjoy the sensation of being everywhere and nowhere all at the same time — you are one with all that is. Rest here for a while.
Now, very slowly draw your attention back to your physical boundary, breath rising and falling in the center of your chest. Bring your attention to your body sitting, standing or lying down. Feel the sensation of the ground beneath you and feel the solidity of your body. And when you are ready, slowly open your eyes and take in the colors and shapes around you. Now take a deep breath — you are ready to go about your day. You may notice that you feel much lighter all day. And that events flow more easily for you.
Remember, you can do this by taking “time out” and closing your eyes for a few minutes but you can also do this wherever and whatever you are doing. Every time you become aware of the dimensionless space that resides within, you create space in your life for God to enter. And with more divine presence, you can let go and trust in the goodness of life.