‘Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angro, get good and angro. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.’ Ernest Hemingway
’Whenever you are in doubt, it is best to pause. Few things are so pressing that they cannot wait for a moment of breath’. T.K. Desikachar
In the previous article I wrote about the importance of meditation – as one of the first instruments to get in touch with yourself, to accept and embrace who you are instead of so much trying to change and shape, negate, contradict and work against our negativities and shadows. One thing is for sure – the more control we have over our mind the more power we have over our life.
Beside emptying the mind, meditation also helps create that space within – we create space in our everyday life for ourselves, to reconnect – could help if you have a corner in your house where you practice, that you associate with inner-work, an ode to your soul- but also that inner space, where you get to befriend and play with those aspects of you that you avoid or dismiss in this everyday life filled with distractions.
When the breath wanders, the mind is also unsteady.
Another practice that helps us create that space, is pranayama. In Sanskrit, prana – means life energy, energy that moves in our system. Yama is rule, control. Hence pranayama in yoga consists in all the breathing techniques that control the Breath, hence also control your energy.
Breathing is paramount in many spiritual practices, and lots of ancient texte dwell on the importance and quality of breath.
Although breathing is something that happens by itself, you might say it is something we can all do. Yet we don’t. We don’t know how to breathe – and I was the first one to realize that – on myself, as I observed I am breathing superficially, with not even a third of my lung capacity.
As you might know, there are consequences of this shallow breathing that can lead to anxiety, stress, panick attacks, and generally tensions in our body – all these because we breathe only with our chest, or thoracic breathing, or even because we hold our breath and take in less air. These are product of environmental stressors, like temperature, pollution, noise and day-to-day actions that create stress.
When we breath superficially, our body gets into this cyclical state of stress – and we become victims of this vicious cycle – stress— shallow breathing and vice versa.
Let conscious breathing be your anchor to presence.
So why not try something new today and see how it goes? You should just start by observing your breath whenever you remember – whenever you have some idle time, or when you sense you are getting nervous or unsteady. You don’t have to get into complicated techniques at first – just observe your breath and try diaphragmatic breathing (helps to lower blood pressure, reduces heart radem relaxes your mucles and increases your energy levels). Maybe even count on your inbreath and outbreath and hold your breath as much as you can – do some sets of deep breathing and observe the effects. Aren’t you convinced yet that this is key to your well-being? Eventually, you will integrate the breathing techniques that suit you in your daily practice, along with meditation.
Life is a created by moments and once we come back to our breath we understand deeply that everything comes and goes, everything is changing. Repetition creates the habit – and habitual actions only can lead to results. We sow the seeds and we then reap the fruit.
It is up to you how you create your life – and most probably, distractions are the number one factor that is stopping you from following your dream. Choose to disconnect. Give that to yourself and remember that its up to you whether you actually aim at taking action. Whether you continue to feel as if you are on a record that goes on and on because, as painful it may be, its safe, its predictable, cozy and secure. Try going beyond these zones of safety.