Last week a dry cough gripped my breath and made it short. I had the experience we all have - appreciating something when it’s gone or not working well.
Breathing is the in and out of life that happens unconsciously, until it doesn’t. The idea of my last breath became a reality. What do I breathe? How do I breathe? Can I do it better when I’m better? These were all questions that stayed with me as I slowed down due to shallow breath.
That experience helped me create some breathing space in my life - the gift of illness is the gift of time. Nothing became more pressing than healing the cough and yet I needed to give it time by giving myself time to slow down and rest. Who wants to be sick? Too much to do! I should push on! I also couldn’t hurry up the recovery - the illness itself needed breathing space to find its feet and work itself through.
Breathing space is needed when we are sick and it is key to keeping healthy when we are healthy. Exercise and rest create breathing space for the body, listening and meditation make breathing space for the mind, and philosophy and reflections on life and death provide breathing space for the intelligence.
And the soul? How to make breathing space for soul? Answer: Intentional devotional service to Krishna, for His pleasure. Taking time to gaze at the beautiful Deity form of the Lord. Making a tasty vegetarian dish and offering it to Him with love and devotion. Joining a kirtan. Taking japa beads and walking or sitting with Krishna’s name. Listening to talks about Krishna. Sharing thoughts about Krishna through writing or speaking.
My favorite example of breathing space is Krishna providing it to Arjuna minutes before the great battle of Kuruksetra. It made all the difference for Arjuna. Keep breathing space close to the top of your new year’s resolutions list - to have some for yourself and to give to others. It’s guaranteed to make all the difference.