Have you ever noticed that your breath is shallow or that you seem to be yawning more than you used to. Do you wish you had more time to breathe and feel the air rush into your lungs and fill your body with life?
Lately I have been reflecting a lot on breathing, the process and the outcome and how related it is to our total experience of life.
As I see it, life is meant to be cherished and appreciated, taken in gradual intervals of work and release. In that same vein, there is a natural rhythm to how we need to breathe to operate optimally and provide our bodies with the oxygen it needs to meet its needs.
First, we have the inhale. I consider this to be analogous to the work we exert to bring the things we need to get by in life. We can choose to breathe in deeply or shallowly, depending upon our level of physical exertion and stress. In the case of physical exertion we work hard to provide the oxygen our body needs and in turn we receive a large amount of oxygen to sustain the performance we are requesting of our body. Without even reflecting on our need for oxygen, it comes rushing into our lungs.
If we take a step back and think about how much our bodies appreciate that oxygen and thrive on its life source, it’s a powerful example in gratitude we can learn from. Our body only takes as much as it needs, it optimally uses the resources it’s given for maximum performance and releases what does not work.
Yet as human beings, we feel we need more. We look externally to find sources outside of ourselves to breathe life into our bodies so we feel like we are completely alive. We try to take in as many unique cuisines, trips, clothing and toys as we can to ensure that we aren’t missing out on anything life has to offer. We often forget that there is a limit to how much we can truly enjoy and how much happiness we can derive from what we already have, rather than looking for what we do not have.
Sometimes we push ourselves so hard to obtain more oxygen or life experiences that we don’t even have time to fully appreciate the nourishment we are gasping for. Then when we feel the pain of this tension, we turn to a different form of oxygen, focusing on the next gap to fill and alleviate our shortness of breath.
Henceforth, we must exhale. Keeping along with the breathing analogy, this process is akin to letting go of the oxygen that you no longer need, to fuel the rest of the world with what it does. It also entails releasing harmful toxins from your breath that do not serve your body. Of course, our lungs do this with effortless grace, but as human beings this process is much more challenging.
When you think about your own letting go process are you satisfied with what you have decided to keep in your life? When you look inside your home, do all your possessions have strong meaning? Are your friendships fulfilling? Do you keep in contact with family too much, too little to nourish your soul?
In the past several months I’ve been purging as much as I can from my closet, the basement and conversational space. My hope is that I’ve made some folks happy with donations, have invested some ebay funds in better tools for life and opened up free time to be with those who really matter to me. I’ve learned that the more I hold on to the harder it is to feel free and brainstorm opportunities for positive change in my life.
Intuitively we know what feeds our soul, how much oxygen we need and what we need to get rid of. Yet, it’s comfortable to remain in the status quo, holding onto old habits and perceptions that make the world feel “right” to us. Nevertheless, is feeling comfortable worth the price of an inefficient use of you limited time on this earth? Oxygen and life are precious gifts we often take for granted, until they are limited. Today I ask that you examine your breath and check in with yourself on how nourished you feel and what changes you can make to breathe more deeply in order to enjoy your life more fully.