what does your breath say about you?

Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013

I’m taking a walk still thinking of the words I heard on my yoga DVD weeks ago. Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa’s quote has become a daily mantra for me, ringing with increasing intensity.  She says, “How you breathe is how you live your life.”

After her words seeped into the air, I immediately caught myself fully aware of what seconds before was oblivious to me.  I gasped – do I live carelessly?  I wanted to convince myself that surely I did not, but as I thought more and more about it, and followed the rise and fall of my chest, the answer as to how often I truly paid attention to my breath became despondently clear.

Since the introduction to this mantra, my grateful repetition, I’m heightening my awareness eying, listening to and searching for more evidence on how we live.

I notice, while working on the computer, a short sort of panting – quick and fast.  Do I live impulsively and hurried?  My breath in this moment tells me so and I know this is a characteristic others see in me.  My fingers pause on the keyboard and I look away from the bright screen.  Maybe Khalsa is right, “How you breathe is how you live your life.”

I hear the strained snuffle of the man behind me at the grocery store.  Is he stuffy and fusty?  I then see the woman next to me – her window rolled down, singing loudly.  She inhales deeply then releases her voice with confidence and joy.  Now that’s a way to live!

On the phone with my grandmother, I hear her sighing delicately and slow.  She is calm and sure.  My nephew runs endlessly, trying to catch the ball as fast as he tries to regain his breath.  He lives with tireless vigor and passion.

Yes, we are our breath.

I watch the bending branches of trees, as if bowing before me, offering me a full, fresh, cleansing inhalation.  How do the trees breathe?  From the carbon dioxide exhaled through our bodies.  And how we breathe?  From the oxygen supplied by the trees.  We learned this years ago as young children, but somehow along the way we’ve overlooked this simple miracle, taking this precious exchange for granted.

Let us remember to constantly live like trees – with humility, grace and necessity.


behind the scenes

This piece was originally posted on Thank the Now.  Thank you for featuring my work.


feature image provided by Sally Mann from her southern landscapes collection.


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