Paradox of the breath

There are many paradoxes to breathing, one of which is it is the most natural thing in the world, and yet we so easily forget, for very long stretches of time, how to breathe in the way our bodies are built to breathe, easily and deeply. And if we get too much in our heads about it, thinking about breathing easily rather than just doing it, it can feel so unnatural and challenging.

Yet the paradox that has been a very great source of creative tension for me lately is: Can the breath feel like home, and at the same time, can each individual breath feel like the completely new experience that it is?

Use a moment to take that in. Breathe that idea in.

I’ve written about how my breath is one of my greatest teachers, so here is a case in point: right now, what I am learning from holding this paradox, is getting back to Beginner’s Mind about myself. Because what’s true for the breath is true for my Self, and also true for all human beings. There is an eternal part of me that remains strong and stable, and then there are those aspects of me that are constantly in flux.

Every day I make an effort to connect with my strong, stable center in order to become more aware and capable of handling whatever is new among my ever-changing parts. From my strong stable center, I can weather change by shifting as mindfully as I can to a new point of balance, or pulling myself back to center as quickly as I can if I find I have reacted in a way that is too extreme for the situation or unaligned with my higher truth.

So right here, right now, can you come home to your breath? Can you find that strong, stable, secure, and expansive sense of being at home at the same time that you welcome each breath as if it were your first? Because both are true. There is only the One Breath being breathed over and over and over again from a different perspective each and every single time. What can you experience and learn with each new breath? Where does your next breath take you?

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