Each full breath we take has a beneficial impact. If we take that full breath consciously, with awareness, the benefits are exponentially increased. We can develop a practice of breathing this way. We can even cultivate skill in the way we allow our breath to be modulated by our experiences, and the ways that we encourage a full deep breath in every moment—in the presence of all of the vicissitudes of a human life.
We can come to understand and experience that within each breath we breathe is the possibility for greater health, healing, and wellness; personal growth and development; creativity; developing intelligence and wisdom; accessing intuition; and evolving and building a healthy world together.
When we are in the womb we feel, we sense, we grow. What makes it possible for us to feel, sense, and grow outside of the womb is breath. It is the most critical physiological function for life. Breath is one of the most transformative forces for life and one of the most powerful medicines on the planet.
Right now you and I are sharing the same experience—that our life began with a single breath, that our life is maintained by a series of breaths, and that the last thing that we do in this life is to take a breath. Right now you and I are sharing the air that we breathe. This air has been breathed over time by trillions and trillions of creatures, human and non-human, including all the people that humanity most admires for having helped make the world a better place.
And right now, you and I have the same experience that without any conscious effort on our part we are breathing, which is supporting every cell of our body the efficacy and vigor with which the cells function, and animating every moment of our life.
Simultaneously this most critical, essential, powerful physiological function can be affected in its rate, depth, and more by our conscious volition. The implications of the meeting of unconscious and conscious aspects of breathing, the effortless and efforting dimensions of breathing, for regulating a healthy and harmonious relationship between the sympathetic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system, and for creating opening and flow between the conscious and unconscious mind are thrilling and promising.
At the beginning of the 21st century, there is expanding recognition that the source of much illness and disease is lack of oxygenation. How fortunate we are that there is wisdom from ancient times to today that can teach and guide us in consciously harnessing the full benefits of our breath, our most potent nutrient, and our most potentiated vehicle for awareness and self-actualization—and it is free and available every moment.
From the simplest of breathing techniques that encourage relaxation and stress-reduction to progressively enhanced techniques that promote cortisone regulation, stimulate immune functioning and hormonal regulation, and neural regulation and integration—and finally to intensive breathing techniques that help humans to penetrate the deepest parts of themselves, access their greatest gifts and fully flower as a being— breath is a surprising, delightful, and awesome blessing.
Envision a world in which every baby is so loved and supported that there is little or no restriction or constriction, or holding of the breath due to anxiety, fear, or unnecessary suffering. Envision that these relaxed, breathing children’s bodies are then taught early in life about the significance, power, and potential of deep and healthy breathing. Imagine a world in which these children are taught to breathe optimally and even expand their knowledge and capacity to breathe.
Imagine a world in which all adults are supported and guided in retraining their bodies to breathe fully. Could we, as a species, as individuals, be healthy? Could we then meet each other with more relaxation, confidence, and awareness of others? Could we then work together to keep our air, earth, and water clean and vibrant? Could we then recognize our common humanity—and need to love and be loved? Could we build a healthy world that we can collectively relish together?...
There is a way of breathing,
That is a shame and a suffocation.
And there is another kind of breath,
A love breath,
That opens you infinitely.
From "A Complete Breath" by Jessica Dibb. Used with permission from the author.