“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I never thought much of my breath until very recently.
It all began with a journey into self-awareness.
I like most people for many years lived on automatic. Just living the day only to reach the night. And even today, if I’m not mindful I am able to slip into automation very easily.
How was I able to redirect myself from automatic thoughts and behaviors to living with more awareness?
In all honestly, it wasn’t a pivotal moment whereby I had an Epiphany to change. But instead life stopped me in the most crudest of ways. Illness, insurmountable stress, unstable emotions and behaviors all worked in sync to plunge me into a strong halt.
I prayed, I recited, I sought knowledge; I did what I was supposed to do as a Muslimah. But even the most beautiful, meditative, peaceful, and curative acts of worship had become just automatic responses that my body and mind were trained to execute in a timely manner.
I decided it was time to learn, time to make a change. Something within me just didn’t feel right. And I had two choices. I could either continue to live this life always feeling weighed down, or I could search for a way out of this feeling. I decided to read various texts and then reflected on how they were informing me. Constant trips to the library in search of the next self help book, late night lectures, and prayer for peace and guidance informed my next couple of years. Many day and nights I stared into the sky in silence. And after a while of doing this I came to a very startling conclusion, “I didn’t really know what I wanted any more, and the only way to find that out was to take time and journey within myself.”
What an insightful journey this was. I learned many lessons about myself, but one of the most important and simplest ones was that I that I needed to Breathe!
And I don’t only mean the repetitive physiological process of taking in air into the lungs and then expelling it.
I needed to consciously breathe in life in its most abundance of blessings and exhale anxieties, worries, frustrations, sadness and all the other emotions that had staggered my growth.
― C. JoyBell C.
Today my breath has become more than just life for my cells; it’s become one of my greatest sources of emotional support.
With my breath I find myself again, I anchor into a safe space. A space where I can then connect with my Creator in a way I never have before. A space whereby my heart can speak for what it yearns.
With my breath I come to a present space. A space away from regret and uncertainties.
It used to be very easy for me to spiral downward just by thinking about all the things in life that were beyond my control. Including in this were all the atrocities and inhumane events that continue to destroy families and communities. My heart always felt weighted.
But now, the second I realize the gift of breath, a sense of tranquility presents itself and transcends any uneasy emotion. I am then able to feel safe again, feel at peace again, and feel grateful again.
I can say this with confidence, today,
Breathing helps me work through the chaos in my world.
Breathing helps me accept without judgement; without reaction the emotions in my heart and mind.
Breathing helps me anchor into a safe space, here now in my present.
I was always one to react. Alert, ready to jump into action, speak my mind, stand up at No and get agitated at the slightest problem.
Through breathing I have realized the power of calm and ultimately that of choice.
It’s that simple. It didn’t happen overnight, and as my motto goes, I am a work in progress. But I assure you that if you choose to be conscious of this gift of breath, you too can find in it a friend.
Who would have ever thought that something so simple could bring about changes so great?
One of the greatest outcomes is that with my breath as my anchor, I am then able to turn to the Almighty and feel my soul connecting to Him like never before.
My breath is a gift. And by becoming conscious of this gift and using it in the best of ways, I acknowledge the One who gifted it to me, Allah swt; the Beneficent, the most Merciful.