Thoughts on the Importance of Observing the Breath

The other day, I had someone ask why paying attention to the breath is so important for a good mental state and an integral tool for strength.  This was the general idea of my response.   The breath is an amazing phenomena that we as human beings have been given, to not only provide our cells with the oxygen needed to nourish  our bodies with energy and life, but, it is an excellent example of the essence of faith. The breath is a mechanism that illustrates both the feeling of control ( i.e. Taking a Deep breath), as well as the realization of trust (or faith).   When we do not lay attention to controlling the breath, the brain/body takes over and handles the job without fail (well until the inevitability of impermanence rears its truth).

Similarly in life, we have this illusion of ultimate control, as we lay attention to the acute situations in our life and do our best to manipulate in a manner to gain our desired outcome.  Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  Yet, in the long term, we ultimately experience the truth, which is this perceived control is truly an illusion. Eventually this reality becomes apparent, even if momentary, at some point in life (some sooner, some later) and as we relinquish this illusion of control, we realize the truth behind faith, for that which many call God.

Just as our respiration is regulated without need of our control or interference, faith allows that which was meant to be, come to be. Sometimes the outcome is congruent with the illustration one has in mind, sometimes not….but either way using control or using faith, the outcome ultimately is the same (long term).   Yes, certainly as we attempt to control our outcomes, our destiny, there are small battles that are successful, usually at the expense of enormous amounts of energy and resources.  Yet faith allows for a conservation of energy as well as the opportunity to realize that just as I sit here and write and my breath goes in and out without effort, so too will life with a true understanding of faith.

So are we the master of our own destiny?   Well, I would suppose so, for we are the master of our reactive nature.  Yet often our view of what we desire our destiny to be, and what it ultimately is, are very skewed.   The only real truth we know of is, we are born, the current moment, and that we will eventually move on from this life.   It is truly amazing once one begins living this truth, how everything you need manifests itself.  (caveat…what you need isn’t always what you want….Que Mama Odie from Disney’s Princess and the Frog singing “Dig A Little Deeper”).

So, if you need a boost, some strength, not only trust in faith, experience faith.  Close your eyes and just observe your natural respiration, just as it is.  No control, no interference, just observe.  It is this place that you experience the truth behind faith.  The truth behind God.  Here, you will find the strength you seek. For just as breathing without thought or effort is a miracle of faith…so is the river of life.  For, no matter how much control we think we might have, the river will continue to flow whether we fight its current or have faith and meander down, accepting what it brings with love and a smile.  May you all find peace and strength in your faith my friends and may you all experience the happiness and love we were all meant to live.

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