Where there is breath, there is life.
Our earth like us, breathes. In photosynthesis, plants absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide to make oxygen. And what’s known as respiration, plants produce small amounts of carbon dioxide that is released back into the atmosphere. All life depends on photosynthesis. Nature, trees, forests and jungles are the lungs of this planet. There is breathing of the global atmosphere. Like the changing seasons of our hemispheres, north and south, the renewal of life and energy deepens our breath, takes our breath away, calms, excites, removes the toxins from our souls. Breath and life. In and out. The cycles of life and living, here, now.
Breath. The first energy force we take in when we are born unto this earth. The last energy force we expel when we leave. The mind, body and breath are intimately connected like the threads of the universe that connect us all. Our breathing is influenced by many things, our thoughts, actions, and feelings. Learning the art of breathing consciously and mindfully is a valuable tool in helping restore balance within our minds and bodies.
The word pranayama comes from two Sanskrit words. Prana is life force and yama is control. By the learned practice of controlling your breath, you can influence your reactions to thoughts, feeling and actions that affect your life. Controlled breathing can and does still the overactive mind bringing clarity and calm. Peace and knowing. Connection with your soul, yourself. It is like throwing open the windows of your home after a long winters night to greet the much awaited spring air. Breathing in to cleanse your body and soul with renewed fresh air. Breathing out the stale and over processed ways of thinking and doing. Kundalini yoga, Zen Buddhism meditation, shamanism, and prayers at a Catholic mass, every path of spirituality has at its core to enlightenment one focus, the breath.
Our breath and the breath of our world, like most things, is taken for granted. Something most don’t pay much attention to, except those with chronic lung conditions who struggle for each and every breath of every day. Our life-giving and taking breath enables us to determine our favorite things like food, people, flowers, mushrooms, perfume, oceans, rivers, sand and earth, wind and fire. When we love something we breathe it or them in, the essence of who and what they are. When was the first time you breathed in a newborn baby? When was the last time you were honored to be in the presence and blessings of someone leaving this life?
There will be dozens of people who will take your breath away, but the one who reminds you to breathe is the one you should keep. -Unknown
Breathing is an involuntary act that can also be made voluntary with attention, practice and patience. We are able to breathe in all things love and gratitude and release out pain and sorrow. We are able to breathe in the strength of a well rooted tree and expel toxins that turn our leaves withered and brown and crisp. We are even able to breathe in the energy of the space that surrounds us with the people within it and choose to breathe and create our own space free of chaos and drama. Our breath. This life-giving force that drives our souls and the energy between the spaces in our cells, food for the mitochondria that keeps our cells dividing so we may grow and thrive. Honor it, practice it, attend to it. The breath is divine. Keep it so. Breathe out that which no longer serves you. Harness the power of your breath in the prayers you offer in quiet and solitude.
Photography by Christine Wasnie, “Nature Speaks”