I went to an amazing workshop last night where I learned that the answer to all of our troubles can be achieved by just breathing. I spend a lot of time on this subject. Partly because I'm an avid meditater, but also because I'm a nurse on a pulmonary floor where we specialize in respiratory failure. I work with patients who have to sit in a tripod position with pursed lips just to get a decent breath in. I work with patients on ventilators who can't breathe on their own, and I work with Cystic Fibrosis patients who are often young and die young of too much mucus in their lungs, usually resulting in a lung transplant (if they are lucky). So, I would say I'm an expert at this breathing stuff. But what I heard last night was so easy, yet so profound I just had to share!
Anyone who meditates knows that the breath is often used to help keep you centered and present with your body. The breath takes you deeper into relaxation and is often used to help visualize what is going on in the body. For example, try now to take a very deep breath in and really focus on it filling your lungs. You will notice when you do this, for a split second, your mind is clear and completely focused on your body. Being present in your body is one of the best ways to get in tune with what is really going on with you in the here and now. So the breath is the leader in this process as well as your constant companion to bring you back to the present moment.
The role of the breath, though, is so much more. According to Matt Kahn, a mystic and spiritual teacher whose workshop I attended last night, said that the biggest problem with life is that we are in a constant fight against it. Our minds are constantly rattling off negative thoughts and suggestions as to why we are no good or why we are doing something wrong,( or someone else is doing something wrong). We do this because we have short attention spans and are easily pulled away from ourselves by negative thoughts that like to keep us from being present in the moment, which is where we should always strive to be. So he advocated to increasing our attention span, thereby being more present in the moment. This can be done by spending at least a minute of deep breathing, and doing this often throughout the day. That's it!
Deep breathing has a few benefits. First, it slows you down, no matter what you are doing. I often use this with patients who are having a panic attack because they feel like they can't breathe. I know it goes against reason to tell someone to take a deep breath when they can't breathe, but I have found this works, even with them. Breathing deeply takes away the inner dialog that only perpetuates the situation, thereby putting someone into a panic attack. It silences the mind, even if only briefly thereby helping you gain control. Its a beautiful thing, and its easy, free and readily available. Can't beat that!
So, try it. For one minute. No matter where you are, no matter what you are thinking. Just breathe. When you do, your heart opens up to who you really are. No fear, no shame, no wants... just pure love. Love for yourself, love for your life and love for the fact that at the very least you can breathe. You need nothing more than that. What a gift that is! Matt helped me realize what I've always known. My truth is in my breath. It started at birth and will continue till death. Now I can listen to it more and use it as guidance to just be. And that's exactly where I want to be!