All too often, we allow our â€œmonkey mindsâ€, as Buddhists call them, to vault from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Â When we’re at work, weÂ fantasizeÂ about being on vacation; on vacation, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusiveÂ memoriesÂ of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future.
Most of us don’t have control over our thoughts. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine says that “Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall.â€
In order to feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find the sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this current, to pause, and, as Kabat-Zinn puts it, to “rest in stillnessâ€”to stop doing and focus on just being.”
And the first step to being is through â€œconscious breathingâ€. If we only understand the psychological and spiritual value of our breath, then we will live more consciously, taking cognizance of our breathing more often.
The Bible says that the â€œLord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lifeâ€ (Genesis 2:7). And in Job 33:4, â€œThe Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.â€ This clearly points out that in our breath lies the very power that gives us life. Our breath is the imprint of Godâ€™s Spirit. Indeed, our every breath is that of God.
Part of what I do in therapy is teaching my clients how to consciously breathe. In the moment they do, they immediately feel the effect. It allows them to center and be aware of the present and they realize that in the present, all problems and pains melt. Why is this?
Psychologically, most problems are caused by too much thinking of what the future will be. We have a lot of fears and â€œwhat ifsâ€. When we get consumed by these thoughts, we lose the power to manage them and in effect they get so disturbing and overwhelming.
But the mind can only accommodate one thought at a time. When we focus our attention on our breathing and become relaxed in the process, we occupy our waking mind with the â€œNowâ€, with the present. When we are present, we begin to have control of letting our thoughts come and go without getting entangled with them. This very process empowers us and allows us to get in contact with our real essence and the spiritual revival that it brings.
The very act of conscious breathing does not require a sophisticated esoteric method like most meditation practices suggest. All it entails is a quality of being present by focusing our attention on the action of our nose and diaphragm. It is becoming aware of the going in and out of air on our nostrils and the going up and down of our diaphragm. But of course, if we want to deepen our understanding of conscious breathing, we can go all the way to deep meditation.
Conscious breathing relieves us from stress. It cures us from our anger, panic attacks, manage our pain, anxiety, fears, and it makes us one with our God. Like the calmness in the eye of the storm, we too can live peacefully amidst the chaos that surrounds us by simply breathing. Otherwise, we will be dead if we do not, literally and figuratively. And so, breathe to stay alive!
P.S. Bohol Child Head Start will now offer Grade V! For inquiries, please call 416-1248/09295571136. You can also find us in Facebook. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)