Monday, December 3, 2018

Your Breath Is Your Guru


Someone jokingly said to me recently, “You are my guru.” I laughed and responded, “No, I’m not anyone’s guru. Your breath is your guru.”

It’s true. And it’s that simple.

My shelves are filled with books on spirituality, mysticism, happiness, meditation, enlightenment, and more. I used to read them because I thought they held a secret, the secret, to all I ever wanted to know. I came to understand that I would never find what I sought in those books, or in the workshops or retreats that I attended. 

I would find what I sought only when I quit looking for it, when I realized that it was never lost. It is here, ever present. As close as every breath I take. And my breath, if I listen to its wisdom, will teach me everything I need to know.

Breathing teaches me to live now, in this moment. We all understand that breathing keeps us alive. So do food and water. But unlike food and water, breathing keeps us alive in the present moment and only in the present moment. I can survive for a while on the food I ate this morning. But the breath I took five hours ago, or even five minutes ago, cannot keep me alive right now. The breath that keeps me alive is the one I’m taking as I write this sentence. Another breath keeps me alive as I write this one.

Breathing teaches me about the oneness of all life. All things that live, breathe in some form or fashion. Everything that is alive right now is breathing. Not only that, but our breath gives life to plants as they use the carbon dioxide we exhale, just like they in turn exhale the oxygen we require. So not only is all life one, but all life is interdependent.

Breathing teaches me about impermanence. I breathed in when I was born, and I will breathe out when I die. We manifest into form, and we return to the formless. Each individual breath is a reminder. I cannot hold my breath to stop the cycle. Breathing keeps me alive only when I release one breath to allow another.

Breathing teaches me about my body. Breathing keeps me alive, and breathing in certain ways keeps my body healthier, mentally and physically. Breath is connected to many health and wellness practices. It is the original biofeedback technique. As we weakened over time our connection to our bodies and became more lost in our thinking minds, we changed the way we breathe. Relearning our natural breathing patterns restores the mind/body balance.

I love all my books, and I enjoy the workshops I attend. Now I see them as welcome reminders of what my breath was teaching me all along. I only needed to listen.

What lessons does your breath teach you?

18 comments:

  1. Apologies in advance but I couldn't resist:

    "What lessons does your breath teach you?"

    BRUSH!!!

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  2. Here I am, in the mountains, promised to go "dark" from cyber land, and your amazing post appears, Galen. I can't ignore it as it is about breathing. What that conscious practice has done for the quality and depth of my life! Secures us to the moment without a doubt. I will be forever thankful for my chiropractor who pointed this out to me. I'd like to keep this as my 2019 word, but will wait and see what God inspires. Blessings to you!

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    1. Yep, Martha, breathe is your word. And whether it is your official 2019 word or not, you will continue to benefit from the wisdom of your breath for all the years to come. Enjoy your time in the mountains, and thanks for plugging in long enough to comment.

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  3. I love this post. Thinking about the breath is a meditation in itself. Galen, your posts are always thoughtful and medicine for my soul. I leave them in my inbox until I have time to read and reflect. Blessings to you, my friend. :-)

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    1. DJan, listening to and learning from our breath is a wonderful meditation practice. A wonderful life practice, for that matter! Thanks for your kind words.

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  4. What a perfect metaphor for life and living in the moment. I am still in the stage of reading all sorts of books to help me transition from my "old" life to one more connected to my True Self. But, you are so right: I will learn more by simply doing and living.

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    1. Bob, we love those books, you and me both! And yes, at some point we realize that reading about swimming is not the same as swimming. At some point we have to get in the pool. (But it's fine to enjoy reading about it!) Eager to hear more about your exploration and discovery of your "True Self." Are you writing about it on your blog? I missed it if you did.

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    2. I have dropped some hints, but not delved into it deeply as of yet.

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    3. I'll be watching your blog closely for hints!

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  5. Its amazing that we all have the inner guru built into the very fabric of our being. I believe we do get to the point where we realize the seeking is over. We rest in the reality of who we really are. All the answers to our quest are found within. I like Aygashanti statement that 'there is no such thing as enlightenment.There are only enlightened moments'. All fulfillment is found in the eternal Now and what better way to enter into now, then to concentrate on the breath.

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    1. I just used that same Adyashanti quote today--one of my favorites also. I love your description of the inner guru built into the very fabric of our being.

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  6. Its very interesting Galen, how we call this inner divine Guru so many things,all over the world... Christ, Atman, the Light, Buddha, higher Self, the I Am, presence, Holy Spirit, Spirit, Consciousness, Great Spirit and it goes on and on. I am not sure if there is a word in Taoism for this inner guide or teacher. In Tao language it is probably 'the unnameable'. Regardless of what we call the inner guide and teacher, we know its there and being still before this unnameable presence makes us humble, compassionate, joyful and more loving. We enter into the presence of this inner sense of being by watching our breath, our thoughts, our emotions, knowing that these outer manifestations are leading us beyond all that, to the very core of who we are.

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    1. Beautifully said, Brian. Yes, so many names for what can't be named. I'm told that the pronunciation of the Hebrew name of God sounds like a breath. So every time we breathe, we say the name of God.

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  7. "When every breath
    Becomes a prayer
    When every step
    Becomes a meditation
    When every word
    Becomes a song of love
    When every heartbeat
    Pulses gratitude
    Then. "

    I know there is no place to comment on your poetic writing but the first sentence ties into what you said ...when ever Breath becomes a prayer... perfect. This poem is the formula for entering into a whole different state of being (a realm of heaven) no wonder the figure could only smile and bow out ..no words could express the ultimate realization of unity with the oneness of being. The breath movement and the walking meditation can cause a wonderful joyfulness and peace when we enter into the space of now, that along with the other elevated emotions of love, awe and gratitude can create a bliss that cannot be expressed in words. This is all very inspiring Galen. Thanks for writing these great posts. ...smile

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    1. Thank you, Brian, for your kind and generous words, and for the wisdom in your lovely reflections.

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  8. I must admit that I haven't taken the time to think that much about breathing. It is what keeps us alive. I loved reading and thinking about what you wrote. I really liked this thought; "breathing keeps us alive in the present moment and only in the present moment."
    I do know the importance of utilizing good breathing techniques in health. I have deep gratitude for every breath I take.
    Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Gratitude for every breath we take--that's the way to make every breath a prayer. Thanks, LeAnn, for your comment.

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