Breath is life. Physically, it gives us that all-important oxygen to feed our cells. It gives us energy to do our work in the world. It moves our lymph and helps us detox. It can clear our minds and improve our mood. And one of the key ingredients that help our cells replicate is, you guessed it… oxygen. In every moment, millions of cells die and are reborn. Without oxygen, our cells cannot regenerate accurately, and we get dis-ease, out-of-ease. In fact, research shows that lack of oxygen can lead to many of the health disorders we face today.
Esoterically, and perhaps more importantly, breath is the movement of Spirit in and through the body. It connects us physically, emotionally, mentally & spiritually. It aligns us with the infinite intelligence of the cosmos, that primordial vibration of all that is…Oneness, Prime Creator, Source, God are a few names that come to mind. Ancient texts from some of the world’s major religions help shed light on the significance of breath, as they metaphorically describe how God breathed into a handful of clay taken from the earth’s crust to create man. And since our bodies actually have similar percentages of water, carbon, nitrogen, and minerals, to the composition of the Earth, we can have fun musing on the idea that in our most basic form, we are simply Earth and Breath. Breath is our life-force and it’s our breath that animates us as we become embodied and bring Spirit into form.
With our present-day English language, most people in the Western world don’t really think about the word ‘breath’ being synonymous with the word ‘spirit’. The ancients knew this, however, and many cultures around the world still know and remember that breath also means life force, universal energy…Spirit. And they have words in their everyday language that remind them of the importance and meaning of breath. In India, there’s the word ‘Prana’, as in Pranayama. Prana is the Sanskrit word for the cosmic energy that is the essence of our existence. In Japan and Korea, we have the word ‘Ki’ as in Reiki or Aikido, and in China, there’s the word ‘Chi’ or ‘Qi’, as in Thai Chi or QiGong. The words ‘Ruach’ in the Hebrew tradition and ‘Ha’ from Hawaii both mean breath, life force, universal energy…Spirit. And as the story goes, the indigenous Hawaiians observed early on that the Europeans arriving on the islands breathed inattentively during prayer, and therefore had no spirit. Since ‘Ha’ means breath and ‘Ole’ means without, the slang term given to describe the foreigners back then was “hāʻole” which literally meant ‘the ones without the breath’ and is still used to this day.
Since the word ‘breath’ doesn’t lend a complete understanding of its meaning, we can go back to our Latin roots, where most of our English language is derived from. Here we find a word that means breath, life force, universal energy, and Spirit. And that word is ‘Spiritus’. And when you consider that ‘Spiritus’ is smack dab in the middle of our basic word for breathing, ‘re-spir-ation’, it can give us that aha moment. ‘Re’ means back or again, so every time we take a breath, we connect back to Spirit. When Spirit is in us, we become ‘inspired’. When we work together with a group, we ‘conspire’, when we move toward a goal or a desire, we ‘aspire’, and when we take our last breath on the planet, we ‘expire’.
The awareness that breath is the movement of Spirit in and through the body, conveys a new level of meaning and importance to the word ‘breath’. Since Spirit knows what we want and what we need, our breath, when used consciously, can assist us in connecting to our divine intelligence. It can help us tap into a higher level of conscious awareness. This can give us clarity and guidance, and help us listen to that inner voice that knows truth.
So, take a breath and allow it to relax you and calm your nervous system. Continue to breathe smoothly and slowly, allowing your breath to take you deeper into your center. Listen to the sound of your breath as it flows in and out, in and out, in and out. Place one hand on your belly, below your navel. Energy follows awareness, so the energy of your breath will move to wherever you place your attention, in this case, your hand. Notice your belly rising on the inhale and falling back on the exhale. This simple practice of breathing with hand on belly, invites us to use our diaphragm properly and helps our body to remember how it was designed to breathe. As the diaphragm expands downward, our lungs fill up with air. Our organs talk to each other better and it moves our lymph. Deep breathing brings energy and increased awareness to the lower chakras, recalibrating and activating them with each and every breath. We become more grounded and feel more supported as the lower chakras align with the nurturing energies of mother earth.
Now start to connect your inhale to your exhale and your exhale to your inhale, breathing continuously, without a pause. Feel your life force building and your universal connection growing stronger. After 3 to 5 minutes of this smooth continuous conscious breathing, return to your regular breathing pattern. Notice the energy moving throughout your body and in your hands. You may feel tingling or lightness. Allow any insights you may have to just flow in. You may want to go into meditation or journal about your experience.
Continuous, conscious, diaphragmatic breathing brings Soul and Spirit together and connects us with the divine. It allows us to rise above the fray and see the big picture and helps us trust in the divine order of all things, no matter what is going on around us.
We are in an intense phase of individual and global transformation. Humanity is making a critical evolutionary leap in consciousness that both urges and inspires us to transmute our blocked emotions, heal our bodies, free our minds and connect to our divinity.
As we become consciously aware of our breath and learn to use our diaphragm correctly, breath becomes a powerful tool that can reduce stress, heighten self-awareness and empower us through change.
How do we do this? …Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E!