Breathing is so natural it’s easy to take it for granted. It seems to happen all by itself without any participation required.
Breathing for Pleasure
Because it is so easy, some people may go their entire life not really appreciating how essential it really is until that final moment when the last breath they’ll ever take escapes their body.
Instead of waiting for that last and final breath, we can choose now to breathe consciously and appreciate our breath; it actually feels quite good to do this!
Some people experience life as shallow breathers; accustomed to unconsciously breathing short sips of air using only the top part of their lungs, resulting in a diminished supply of oxygen to the body and brain.
With less oxygen comes greater stress and ill health, with more oxygen there is less stress and greater health. To consciously breathe deeply and with appreciation is to live life as a healthy enjoyable experience.
Take a Breath
Try taking a deep breath right now as you read this. Exhale your breath and squeeze your belly inward toward your spine, then naturally inhale nice and deep as your belly expands outward as much as possible.
This is what constitutes a deep breath. Now try it again and become aware of your chest, the middle and top of your lungs. Inhale into your belly again and then take another sip of air even deeper into the upper part of your lungs, exhale slow long and deep.
This act is unbelievably simple yet very profound. You will instantly feel more alive and more alert; more conscious and aware when you breathe consciously. When life seems to present problems or challenges, the quickest way to solve them is to first take a conscious breath. This simple act will completely alter the mindset by which the problem is perceived.
The Breath/Mind Connection
Breathing may be automatic and unconditional, but it is possible to notice it and to change it willingly; to be conscious of it and control it as desired. In yogic traditions the control of the breath is referred to as pranayama – the regulation of the life force. Some sources of yoga calculate there are 49 types of breath which correspond to certain moods, states of mind, and bodily humors.
For example, when a person is angry their breathing is shallow; when they are calm the breath is slower and deeper. Breathing consciously is an act of remembrance and focusing in upon the present moment.
Indeed, it is nearly impossible to take a deep conscious breath and think of the past or future at the same time. If we were to examine the source of troubles we’d find they are rooted in thoughts of the past and the future. When we are caught in a cycle of worry and concern about past and future it can be increasingly stressful.
However, if we can simply remember to breathe consciously and instantiate ourselves in the present moment, all troubles will cease and a new perspective will be generated. If we continue to breathe consciously throughout each and every day of our life, we will undoubtedly experience a life of joy and gratitude for there is nothing more pleasurable than simply being alive, knowing it and appreciating it.
I invite you again now to take a few deep conscious breaths and be grateful for the ability to breathe; to be alive. To breathe consciously is instant pleasure and gratitude; keep remembering your breath, the breath that connects us all. In breath we are one, one breath, one love, one life.
Christian Locke lives, breathes and travels the world sharing his open heart through writing, yoga, music and poetry. He is the founder of World Campaign for Breath Awareness and author of “Receive Your Heart’s Desire,” an inspirational guide for abundant and prosperous living. Locke is a 500 Hr Certified Yoga Instructor with BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from UT Arlington.