“Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Fascinating the involuntary response that is our body’s breath. The gentle, irresistible action that tugs and releases the air within us in and out of life each instant.
Without the least bit of help from us, this mysterious system defies our bidding, escalating with our emotions and triggering cascades of internal responses to which incapable of granting either permission or disapproval.
Beneath the surface our breath operates continuously. Only when we try to cage it, holding our breath in, silent, does it become fierce and noticeable.
Through each and every moment our breath accompanies us: silent, steadfast, loyal.
Yet while we rarely acknowledge its constant presence, breath is the only involuntary response over which we have any direct control. For what purpose I wonder?
With the practice of pranayama I have witnessed the direct correlation between breath, body and mind. My own serene stillness at the end of a series of long, deep, satisfying breaths or a series of Nadi Sodhanai . My restless energy fueled by Kapalabhati. The steady, open-mouthed chill of Shitali.
And the times when my breath is illusive, sharply reminding me of its own free will. The jagged roughness at the end of wind-sprints. The intensity of inhale corroborating with an unexpected touch or thought.
Gentle reminders that the breath is ours up to a point. The mystery remains regardless of what science can explain.
What is the quality of your breath in this very moment? It’s texture, length, taste, sound?
Subtle changes. What does our awareness shift in the qualities of our breath and the quality of our experience?