Jul 29

The Breath of Life

There is a force that moves through every living thing…. An energy that creates, animates and sustains all things.  I believe this to be absolutely true beyond any shadow of a doubt.  To me this is that something greater than we are, the Higher Power that we so often speak of in recovery, the Source of all that is good, the key to both an eternal life and happiness in this one.  It is the only thing that will last forever…it is everything.

“We are the living links in a life force that moves and plays around and through us, binding the deepest soils with the farthest stars.”   ~ Alan Chadwick

One of the most challenging aspects for those who are seeking to find the God of their understanding for the first time is His formlessness.  It can be difficult to believe in and connect with something that cannot be seen.  Perhaps this is because although God is in all things He is felt and experienced on levels that relate directly to the condition of our own hearts.  Existing and working with or without our awareness, it is our own level of understanding, our personal connection with the Source that creates joy and brings peace into our lives.

In the study of yoga you will surely come across the word prana.  Translated into English it means “vital energy” or “life force energy.”  It is described as the most basic element, the precursor for life, the energy which underlies and manifests all things in the physical world.  Now that sounds an awful lot like God to me but somehow this idea can be offensive to some.  This is not my intention when I ask the question: How could the idea that God is Energy, THE energy, in any way demean or misrepresent Him?  I personally find it hard to believe that anything so grand and powerful could be contained by any material restraints.  For most of us the difficulty seems to lie not so much in not being able to see God as it does in not being able to FEEL Him. So as we strive to improve our conscious contact with the God of our own understanding the exploration of metaphysics and yoga can provide valuable tools for deepening our connection and learning to feel.

What is Prana?

“’God is breath’ is the oldest Sanskrit writing… The Hebrew mystic states ‘God breathed into Man the Breath of Life and he became a living Breath.’  To be ‘in breath’ is to be ‘in God’. The Greek word for the taking in of the breath, ‘in-spiro’ means to be ‘in Spirit’.  The taking of breath is a holy, divine function and those who aspire to Divinity must master Pranayama, the Yoga of Controlled Breathing.”  ~ Swami Gitananda Giri Gurumaharaj

To avoid any confusion let’s be clear that prana is not oxygen, it can be found in everything.  It can be absorbed through all of our senses, drawn in through food, water, even through the skin.  Breathing however, is one of the most obvious and powerful methods for feeling our connection with the Source.  This makes great sense to me since there is no denying that the breath is the one thing we cannot do without.  More than food or even water we require it and we do it automatically every moment of every single day of our lives.  We are born with this basic need to constantly connect on some level if want to stay alive.  It really is a sacred act that should captivate our attention and yet we usually take it for granted.

Pranayama is the yogic practice of controlled breathing.  It is a meditation, to many it is a form of prayer and it is a powerful practice for connecting with Life Force Energy.  An in depth discussion on pranayama will be coming soon in a future post but for today simply consider your own breathing habits and ways to improve them. How often do you pay attention to the quality of your breath?  Have you ever considered the possibility of including breathing exercises and meditations to your daily routine?  Why not try?  Sit quietly for a few moments and direct all of your attention to slowing and experiencing the breath.  Bring your attention to how you are breathing throughout the day and intentionally focus on how it feels… if it’s fast or shallow slow it down and deepen it, if it’s choppy make it smooth… Simple.  For the next few days just see if you can take some small steps toward creating a new habit.

As you explore options for improving conscious contact with God consider the idea of taking a few minutes each day in seated meditation.  Almost immediately any practice of slowing the breath calms the mind.  Soon the benefits of peace and clarity are noticeable throughout the day.  In time this simple exercise opens the heart and we begin to feel.  There is no right or wrong.  There is no perfect – just practice, just experiencing, allowing and deepening our understanding of what is by intentionally connecting with the Breath of Life.



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