Did you know that a person can live for three weeks without food, three days without water, but only three minutes without breath? Our breath sustains us from our first inhale at birth to our final exhale on this earth. It is both the most fundamental element of our existence and a vehicle for experiencing elevated states of consciousness and bliss.
We are one of the few cultures that does not have a special name for breath. Here in North America, we say that we are breathing air (specifically oxygen), which is true, but it is only a fraction of breath’s life-giving role. In other cultures, breath is referred to as ki, chi, prana, and other terms that mean “life-force energy” or “pure, unadulterated spirit.” This is the fuel we have been given, yet we don’t really know how to use this powerful gift.
A large part of my life’s calling has been to explore the range of breath and its many applications, from the mundane to the profound. The goal of my work is to help people get their breath back, to have their breath as their friend and trusted companion.
How did our breath get restricted in the first place? Our breathing tends to shut down whenever we are under stress or have experienced trauma. Each time we hold our breath (like the startle response or when our minds are racing), a bit of our energy constricts. When our breathing doesn’t flow, our energy doesn’t flow either. This creates more internal tension, which constricts our breath even further. These constrictions accumulate over time and our experience of life can reflect that.
So, how do we interrupt the cycle? How can we bring our breath/flow back so we can operate with our full component of aliveness, spirit, and awareness? The way is remarkably simple.
We start with the basics: Inhale/Exhale. These two parts of the breath are equally important and serve equally essential functions. The inhale brings in life-force, spirit, source energy. The exhale releases tension, restrictions, stuck energy. In between the inhale and the exhale resides the present moment. Every conscious breath balances and enlivens us. This is the divine design. It is a natural process and is always available to us.
When we bring our attention to our breath, its life-giving properties expand within us. Since one conscious breath is equal to ten unconscious breaths, it makes sense to breathe intentionally. The following exercise is an enjoyable and easy way to maximize your breath, bringing in spirit and releasing tension. And it works like magic.
Before we begin the exercise, here are some suggestions to support your experience:
- Sit comfortably.
- Breathe in and out through your mouth. This gives you a fuller breath more easily.
- Breathe into your upper chest, not your abdomen. Spirit will fill your heart center and become grounded in your body. This breathing technique is designed to release and uplift, while abdominal breathing is best used for concentration and control.
- Release the breath like a sigh, only without any sound.
Lee’s Simple Breath Exercise
- Take in a full, comfortable breath (don’t hold your breath in).
- Let it go. The breath will “gush” out like a silent sigh (don’t push or blow out).
- Pause for a moment.
- Repeat sequence from the top two more times (3 breaths total).
This exercise should be done three times a day (or more): Every morning, every afternoon, and before bedtime (so you don’t drag the tensions into dream state with you). It takes only 20 seconds, so do it as often as you can.
Practice and be playful with this exercise and you will find yourself becoming more grounded, present and clear. Your daily life will flow more easily.
This simple process begins to reunite you with your breath. When we are grounded in breath, elevated states of consciousness become accessible.
For those who want to take this to more expanded levels, I offer facilitated breathing sessions to assist you on your journey. As the breath dissolves the subconscious blocks from this or previous lifetimes, we emerge as the liberated and limitless beings we came here to be. That can be our next conversation.