In. Out. Follow the breath. Abdomen rises, falls. Pause at the top; pause at the bottom. Like waves on a shore.
During meditation, keeping the mind still and in the present is the greatest challenge for most and while that’s true for me as well, what really brings me up short is my breath. My short breath. I’ve always been a shallow breather, not that I’m proud of it. At the doctor’s office, I’d be told to “take a deep breath in” and without fail would next hear “no, a deep breath.” Sorry, doc, but that was my deep breath.
Over the years I’ve been doing meditation and Qi Gong, my breath has lengthened and moved downward from my lungs to my diaphragm. A little. But breathing–breathing deeply, fully, into the lower Dan Tian, the lower abdomen–is still not natural, not comfortable. My inhale gets stuck at the sternum or my throat tightens. Sometimes I feel that my abdomen is expanding just fine but that no air is actually being drawn in. Pantomime breath that looks good from the perspective of my teacher or my students but isn’t doing a damn thing for my lungs or moving oxygen in, carbon dioxide out.
Sometimes the frustration leads, as expected, to even shorter, shallower breaths and there I am right back at the beginning, apparently in perpetual fight-flight mode. Why does it matter? Because without breath, full breath, I’ve never been able to sing, blow out all the candles, inflate a balloon. And never feel fully engaged in the now, sinking into the present moment in calm, quiet ease. I’m the Don Quixote of breathing, fighting the imaginary enemy, never able to rest under the bodhi tree, connected to earth and universe.
I’ll continue to offer my hand in friendship to my breath. Perhaps one day my breath will answer in kind, letting me feel the cool swirling at the nostrils, the natural rise and fall, the pause at top and bottom. Like waves on a shore…
2 responses to “My Breath; My Enemy”
It happens the same to me….it´s frustrating …
One day . . . it will all happen . . . all dreams come true. . . eventually . . . in their own time.
Short breath – long breath – shallow breath – deep breath. Just be thankful you are breathing.
To experience and appreciate the “life force” within our breath is the greatest source of personal peace, because living within the conscious feeling of this power will tame our crazy mind and allow us to be who we really are – our true self – in peace and love.
The gift of breath is everything – the beginning and end of human life. This is not something to be taken for granted, but is a reason, every moment of our life, to feel appreciation and infinite gratitude.