Stop whatever you are doing.
Feel your chest expand.
Feel it contract.
Give gratitude for every single breath you take.
Each breath is the heartbeat of the Universe.
Our breath is much more than a physical exercise of oxygen in, oxygen out. It’s an act we do day by day, minute by minute. Without it, we’d have no physical life. Physical breathing is necessary for energy production and body functions. It is a miracle we seem to take for granted.
Ruah is the Hebrew word for breath. Interestingly, it is also the word for spirit. Our breath is the animating spirit that flows in and through us. As we breathe, the Universe breathes. This is our life force. When we approach breath in this context, we understand it as a divine gift.
Our state of mind affects the way we breathe. When you are frustrated, angry, or agitated, your breathing quickens; it tends to become shallow. But when you are feeling peaceful, your breath slows and deepens.
Just as your state of mind affects the way you breathe, the way you breathe also affects your state of mind. Since breath reflects our mental state, you can intentionally guide your breath to become slow and calm. Calming the breath calms the mind. Breathwork is used in many spiritual traditions. One can practice pranayama, or breath exercises, to increase one’s life force.
Breathing deeply and slowly connects us with our Inner Source. As we become conscious of our breath, we begin to understand it as an extension of the life force. Spirit is closer than our next breath because it is our breath.
Artwork courtesy Google Images. Artist Melanie Weidner, "Deep Breath," 2005.