‘Don’t forget to breathe,’ is the gentle admonishment often heard at yoga studios. As participants concentrate on a posture or a focus of meditation they often hold or labor their breath unconsciously. Breath! Such a life essential which we generally take for granted until we are reminded in gentle and not so gentle ways.
The other morning I woke up feeling like life (time) was pressing in on me. ‘I need some breathing space,’ I thought. I need to step back. I then took a few minutes to consciously breathe deeply and feel and hear the in and out of air. I immediately felt better. It felt, forgive the pun, like a breath of fresh air for my mind. I understood then that a) so much of my worries exist in my mind and b) my breath can positively impact the state of my mind and c) I should breath more consciously more often.
A child arrives in the world and gulps it’s first breath and a dear and loved father takes his last. From breath to breath. The earth breathes, the ocean breathes, plants and animals breathe. We are connected by the rhythm of our breath and nourished and held together by breath. Breath, the movement of air, is powerful. It signals life, sustains life and interacts with life.
It carries things seen as well as unseen. It can totally affect our consciousness in both good and bad ways. Too much or lack of air, or things in the air, can physically destroy us, mentally unbalance us, or it can inspire us, please us and ultimately liberate us. It can terrify us or fill us with love. Air is, and it’s effects are, all over the place. It signals life, sustains life and interacts with life.
And by life we ultimately mean soul life, not just body life. When we reflect on breath and air, and feel and breathe it more consciously, we will better understand and feel the impact of sacred sound and the power of mantra. Sanskrit mantras, or any prayer in any language that is directed to a personal form of God, can cut through the layers of false ego and external identity and touch us at the core. They have that potency within them. Depending on the specific mantra, and how well or often we lean in and actually hear it, they move on the breath, through the ear, into the heart, where we, the soul, live. When that happens, the rest, as they say, is history.
Take a moment now and breathe. Add breathing space to your day. Schedule it in. Go outside and breath the early morning fresh air, breath the warm sunlight into your lungs, and down to the tips of your toes. Chant the Hare Krishna mantra with renewed appreciation. It’s described as the ‘great mantra for deliverance’. Breathe it into your being and out to the world. Because it’s also the great mantra of pure love, the heart of all life. Now that’s worth taking a deep breath for.