On Sacred Breath

(c) Microsoft Office Image

Often, we are not aware that we breathe. Life continues even if we forget our breathing. We could take breathing for granted because it is only a normal process of  our bodies, just as we take our hearts for granted because it beats normally without our control. Or we could choose to pay attention to the Breath as a miraculous process in our lives. No one lives without breathing. We have to appreciate our Breath not only as a mechanism of the body, but as a sacred process of the soul.

Breath is the most subtle evidence of life. Organic forms in nature demonstrate life, but its formlessness is invisible. Sacred Breath is in every being from the smallest to the largest. It is flowing in and out of every organism and behaving in a great dynamic of gas exchange. Plants photosynthesize using carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Animals metabolize oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. I feel this is more than just chemical and biological. Our science explains this simple truth that there is no organism that is not connected with each other. This proves that Sacred Breath is the invisible cord of our innate oneness.

Sacred Breath is given as fact of life. The moment that a human being becomes aware of it changes the whole story. Sacred Breath becomes not anymore an ignored autopilot. It now anchors an awareness that there is a bigger, infinite reality that connects our bodies to the Universe. This awareness is essentially a prayer that shows an inner reverence to the outer miracles of life. This is fundamentally our awareness to the life within us as it bridges what is seen and unseen. This is why we call it sacred. 

Every Commune begins with Sacred Breath. For 5 minutes, participants will do nothing but put all their senses upon the Breath: listening to its sound and feeling its warmth as it passes in and out of the nostrils. Distractions are inevitable, such as outside noises, insect bites, itchy backs, numbed legs or the tendency to cough and sneeze; as well as internal noises such as thoughts of problems, erratic images or fantasies, and emotions of fear, anger, and irritation; nevertheless, they are all unimportant. As one pays attention, Sacred Breath becomes the most important thing in one’s awareness. When one gets distracted, the only way is to gently go back to the Breath. No guilt, no remorse. Just plain step to begin again. After all, the goal of the Sacred Breath is not to perfect the breathing by maintaning an unwavering attention. There is nothing wrong with distractions. They are just distractions. The goal is just to breathe, and, when distracted,  breathe again.

Never forget that as we breathe, we are breathing the essence of Love.

If Love has a physical presence, Sacred Breath is its best example. With no conditions or judgment, awareness of Sacred Breath brings one’s attention to an unconditioned awareness, to an experience beyond explanation. Indeed, Sacred Breath does not just bring that experience. Our awareness of it becomes itself an experience. It is the subtle physicalization of Love that does not need any definition and interpretation, only a presence more than liking and disliking or agreeing and disgreeing. For Sacred Breath, whether we like it or not, will thrive as a life force going in and out of us. Our choice is just to feel if it is real.

(c) Microsoft Office Image

All great ancient religious traditions refer to Sacred Breath in many names, but they talk of the same thing. Sanskrit prana, Chinese chi and Japanese ki all refer to the energy of life, flowing as Breath. Tibetan Buddhists breathe in and out in tonglen to share compassion. Sufis (mystical Islam) call it hosh dar dam, the awareness of breath. In Hebrew, it is neshama, God’s breath of life that made Adam alive (Genesis 2:7). Christians call it the holy spirit, wherein the Latin spiritus  means “breath.” Sacred Breath is, in fact, a direct translation. It is so universal that it is not anymore a concept owned by a particular faith. Reclaiming the Sacred Breath is to see that in the heart of human nature is our natural power of breathing, and the only way is just to know that we breathe and breathe as we know.

Never forget that as we breathe, we are breathing the essence of Love. Simultaenously, this essence is felt in our aliveness and presence, seeing our profound connectedness to everything in the sphere of life. This indefinable, intangible, immeasurable and invisible essence is the very evidence of Love. This is the remembrance of Sacred Breath: to make us remember that Love is our way to connect with all there is, and that Love always comes from within.

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