Someone jokingly said to me recently, “You are my guru.” I laughed and responded, “No, I’m not anyone’s guru. Your breath is your guru.”
It’s true. And it’s that simple.
My shelves are filled with books on spirituality, mysticism, happiness, meditation, enlightenment, and more. I used to read them because I thought they held a secret, the secret, to all I ever wanted to know. I came to understand that I would never find what I sought in those books, or in the workshops or retreats that I attended.
I would find what I sought only when I quit looking for it, when I realized that it was never lost. It is here, ever present. As close as every breath I take. And my breath, if I listen to its wisdom, will teach me everything I need to know.
Breathing teaches me to live now, in this moment. We all understand that breathing keeps us alive. So do food and water. But unlike food and water, breathing keeps us alive in the present moment and only in the present moment. I can survive for a while on the food I ate this morning. But the breath I took five hours ago, or even five minutes ago, cannot keep me alive right now. The breath that keeps me alive is the one I’m taking as I write this sentence. Another breath keeps me alive as I write this one.
Breathing teaches me about the oneness of all life. All things that live, breathe in some form or fashion. Everything that is alive right now is breathing. Not only that, but our breath gives life to plants as they use the carbon dioxide we exhale, just like they in turn exhale the oxygen we require. So not only is all life one, but all life is interdependent.
Breathing teaches me about impermanence. I breathed in when I was born, and I will breathe out when I die. We manifest into form, and we return to the formless. Each individual breath is a reminder. I cannot hold my breath to stop the cycle. Breathing keeps me alive only when I release one breath to allow another.
Breathing teaches me about my body. Breathing keeps me alive, and breathing in certain ways keeps my body healthier, mentally and physically. Breath is connected to many health and wellness practices. It is the original biofeedback technique. As we weakened over time our connection to our bodies and became more lost in our thinking minds, we changed the way we breathe. Relearning our natural breathing patterns restores the mind/body balance.
I love all my books, and I enjoy the workshops I attend. Now I see them as welcome reminders of what my breath was teaching me all along. I only needed to listen.
What lessons does your breath teach you?