THE COURAGEOUS BREATH is the breath of surrendering to the spontaneous and dynamic flow of life and all it brings.
Your Breath Is A Mirror Of Your Life
(Oh please – not that old chestnut again!)
The breath serves as a common metaphor for life. You have heard it before – how the flow of your breath mirrors the flow of life. It sounds great (or corny, depending on your frame of reference!) when posted to your facebook newsfeed.
Of course, as is usually the case with these oft-quoted ancient sound bites of borrowed wisdom, there is actually a great deal of truth and insight wrapped up in the superficiality of their social media bumper-sticker appearances.
So, let’s look at it for a moment. Let’s actually look at YOUR BREATH. What do you notice about it?
Does it change when you bring your attention to it – Does your attention to it make you automatically draw in more deeply?
How about your shoulders, or your ribs, abdomen, back muscles, jaw…your heart..aren’t these connected to your breath too?
And then, the biggest question of all –What comments are you making as you observe your breath? What judgments, comparisons, predictions – What type of language does your inner commentary use? What mental script do you attach to the simple act of your breath?
The reason I ask is that the breath is such a fundamental force within each of us, and at every level. Your breath does not just affect your physical body – it also affects your mind, your creativity and your ability to manage and cope with the ups and downs of life.
This is generally well understood and accepted. However, it is rarely appreciated in its fullest sense and even less often integrated into the practicalities of everyday life in any meaningful or significant way.
So let’s go into the idea a little and see where it leads…
Your Life Reflected Through Your Breath
What it really means is that the FLOW of your breath mirrors and reflects the FLOW (or lack of it) in your life.
Life is dynamic. It is in constant flux and movement, never remaining still but continually flowing from one moment to the next. To quote another popular newsfeed sound bite: ‘Change is the only constant in the universe.’
Life flows through various visages of change at all times. Things come, and they go. They expand, and contract. You feel joy, and then pain. You win, and then lose and then gain something else. This is the flow of life, the Law of Change.
When you are open and accepting to the natural flow and fluctuations of life, you move through life with grace and flexibility of mind and spirit. This is mirrored in your breath, which likewise flows gently and effortlessly.
However, when you try to hold on to a certain set of circumstances, you end up restricting the natural flow and movement of life. Those circumstances to which you hold may be external – such as a relationship, a job or youthfulness – or they may be internal – such as a belief system, or a set of values. Either way, the end result is the same: When you hold on too tightly in an attempt to fend off change, you restrict the natural flow and balance of life as it moves through you.
The greater scheme of life continues to move on around you, but your desire to restrict that movement in areas of your life causes the natural flow of life force through your body, being and life to become contracted and congested. At these times, you fail to integrate the inevitable changes which are happening around you and within you and you fall out of sync with yourself and your life. You lose your rhythm and start to stumble over the metaphorical pot holes of your life until you find yourself stuck between a rock and hard place (or a very hard life lesson).
And all of this is subtly but profoundly mirrored in your breath. It is reflected in the tightness and restriction of your breath, which then manifests in any number of patterns; from shortness of breath or panic attacks, to forcibly pushing to extend the breath through mechanical breathing exercises and a mistaken belief that ANY kind of deeper breathing is an improvement. However, when you try to force the breath to deepen through an act of WILL, from a place of tightness and tension, you simply create a deep tight breath instead of a shallow tight breath. The contraction and tension remain.
During times of resistance and restriction, when you are trying (consciously or unconsciously) to prevent the force of change from flowing through your life, your desire for certainty and stasis is greater than your desire to be free and dynamic. Your desire for preservation is greater than your desire to be fully alive.
Life Is Movement
Life – your life and the world you live in –is in constant flux. Clinging to set of circumstances or perceptions which you have constructed goes against the very nature of life. Attempting to maintain rigid stasis in an every moving world causes you to forcibly bend and warp every situation towards the preservation of what IS. This attachment to what IS, denies the beauty and value of what COULD BE. As such, it is the death of your creativity and freedom. It destroys your ability to move freely through life with flexibility of body, mind and spirit.
Your breath becomes rigid and forced, and your body and mind soon start to follow.
Breathing freely, without pressure or tension, without expectation or force, then becomes an act of courage and faith. As you open and relax your lungs, your chest and your abdomen, and surrender to the breath of life flowing through you, you open your heart to the untamed flow of life itself. You gently surrender to the natural and spontaneous expression of life in all its creative glory.
Don’t force yourself to breath deeper. Applying force will add greater tension. Your breath will deepen naturally and effortlessly as you gently but tenaciously remove the obstacles which have been erected restricting its free flowing nature.
The first step is to reacquaint yourself with BREATH. Don’t DO breathing – contemplate an awareness of BEING breath.
Let go of the hold you have on your breath.
Let go of the tensions in stomach and chest,
in shoulders and jaw,
of heart and mind.
Let go, let go
and reacquaint your self
with the spontaneous flow of your breath
and of life.
If you want to learn more about bringing your awareness to your breath, of releasing resistance and coming back to your natural rhythm of life, you can join me in a Mindfulness Mentorship group in Coomhola/Bantry or book a one-to-one session.
+353 89 232 4860
Purposeful Joy, available from Amazon