Is Anybody Out There Breathing? Well, not me. Sure, I’m breathing on my mat. Like a banchee. Darth Vader’s sister couldn’t do a better job: smooth, loud, continuous. But, off the mat: as shallow as Paris Hilton. My breath just skims the surface, keeping me alive, but not really filling me with life force, chi, prana. Just gets me by. A friend recently pointed out that I don’t take in full breaths when I’m just hanging out. Guess I haven’t in years. This might be part of why yoga appealed to me all those years ago—someone telling me to breath, even for an hour or so. At least in the finite experience on the mat, I was breathing on purpose. But off the mat, it’s a different story.

Off the mat, my mind gets consumed with what might be, or what has already happened, not really what is in the present (at least not always).  In all fairness, sometimes I’m supremely present to the moment, but so totally in my head about the experience, that I’m disconnected from my body. Caught up in life’s ups and downs, I miss the real thing. This is easy place to get lost in. It is almost dictated by our culture that we get lost in this quagmire of thinking. So, I offer up a challenge to myself and to anybody else out there who might be listening.

Consciously breath off the mat, that is when you’re not “doing” yoga. Let the breath come in your nostrils, fill your lower ribs, lift your upper ribs and then just relax, and let your breath release out of your body. Then, do it again. See what happens. Who knows what’ll turn up. I’m finding that when my breath is consciously with me, it is as if I’m walking through this life’s journey with a dear and nurturing friend by my side. When my breath is shallow, superficial, well my experience has a greater chance of being exactly that—not as deep as it could be. I become a prisoner in my own ribcage.

So, emphatically draw life in and then gently release that which you don’t need with your exhale. If you feel like it, write me about your experience, or tell me next time you see me. The deepening of our lives, the realization of our dreams, maybe it really is only one breath away.  As Giovanni Papini says, breathing is the greatest pleasure in life. Are you up for it?

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