One Breath at a Time
At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it. ~ Thich Nhat Hahn
If you're like me, you're continually seeking ways to deepen your connection to Spirit. In these tumultuous times, it seems that a deep connection to Spirit and the wisdom that it offers is vital if we are to leave a planet for our children, grandchildren and other sentient beings that is fit to live upon.
Deepening one's connection to Spirit can be as simple as sitting or lying quietly and feeling the body breathe. Awareness of the body breathing can help to calm the mind and allow the "fight or flight" impulse to lessen, and move you into "rest, digest and healing."
In Latin, the word for breath is "spiritus." "Spirit" derives from "spiritus," and can mean "the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person." Inspiration, the quality or state of being inspired, is related to this. The Sanskrit term "Prana" means "life force energy" (also known as "chi" or "ki"). We take prana in each time we breathe in. So putting these together, each time you breathe in, you are breathing in inspiration, wisdom and life force energy.
Breathing mindfully and with awareness can help to deepen the connection to inspiration, wisdom and life force energy, with positive effects.
The ancient yogis have said that a person's lifespan is measured in number of breaths, not time. The fewer the breaths one takes, the longer the lifespan. Modern research confirms this. People with greater vital capacity (the amount of air that can be expelled out of the lungs after a deep inhale) have a greater life expectancy. See here for tips on how to keep your lungs healthy.
Try the following breath practices (pranayama) to deepen awareness, calm a busy mind and relax a tense or tight body.
Breath Awareness, Lengthening the Exhale to Calm the Mind
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) to Calm the Mind and Balance the Nervous System
You can start with just one breath - your next one. Feel the breath as it flows in through your nostrils, down the back of your throat, and expands your ribs and belly. Feel the breath release as you exhale, warmer air flowing out the back of your throat and through your nostrils. Sense energy flowing into your body as you inhale. Consciously soften your body and relax slightly as you exhale. As you breathe quietly in and out, begin to sense a deeper connection to the Earth and all of its inhabitants. Every living, breathing, sentient being.
As with any practice, the more you practise, the more natural it feels. The breath is the window into the body and mind, and as we change the breath it can have powerful and positive effects. Go slowly, practise mindfully, and always come back to a normal breath pattern if you notice any changes that make you anxious or dizzy or produce other effects that don't feel safe. Be gentle with yourself.
To explore these or any other practices further, reply to this email or set up a complimentary 15-minute consultation with me here.
May your breath be soft and your life full of joy and meaning. May our deeper awareness bring healing to ourselves, our loved ones, and the Earth.
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.