The Breath

January 5, 2014 | Writings

As we begin our blog-writing for Contemplative Quest, I have been pondering what, in particular, has been my mainstay on the journey toward Ultimate Reality.
It occurs to me that, front and center, is my focus on breathing, on the BREATH.
In my earliest study of the Scripture, in the book of Genesis, I was immediately touched by the line: “God breathed upon the waters…..”.This line opened me to the connection of created reality with the Spirit of God, Yahweh, the Holy Spirit…God’s BREATH.
In the late 90’s I received a copy of a poem written by Sr. Annabel Laity, then Senior Teacher in Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Community of Mindfulness in Plum Village, France.
At the opening of our weekday meditation sessions, we recite this poem together. There are 18 lines in this poem. I will mention here three lines.
As we slowly read the poem I open myself to let the message move in and through me. This helps me focus for a few moments on the connection of the sitting practise we are engaging in and the world in us and about us. I share a few lines with you.
BREATHE YOU ARE ALIVE. How often we forget the power and significance of our breath! Simply breathing is the primary indication that we are LIVING. Often we forget this miracle until we or someone dear to us has an interference with or cessation of their breathing……
BREATHE FOR YOURSELF AND YOU BREATHE FOR THE WORLD. As simple as that! The Breath – a way to engage in a compassionate and caring way with and for all that is, for those near and far…..
BREATHE AND YOU SEE THAT IMPERMANENCE IS LIFE. Whether happy, sad, angry, grateful…a brief focus on our breath allows us to remember that we have this and only this present moment. The past is gone; the future has not yet arrived. We are invited into the mystery of temporality. We are reminded to cherish those things we experience as good and helped to fret less over the difficult moments and feelings…..
Every line of this poem offers food for our reflection and is a reminder to use what is so close to us, our BREATH, as the remarkable, powerful gift that it is.
Let us make good use of and enjoy our breath.