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A Lesson in Breathing

October 31, 2013

Drawing in air must be an art. I can’t think of how else to describe it. Something so natural it can’t be taught, or learned, or imparted. And CPR doesn’t count.

Just thinking about this makes me wonder; who showed me how to breathe? Who told me how it works, how to use it for speech?

The fact is that no one did. I wasn’t taught, I didn’t learn…but someone did give me the knowledge. I would call breathing an art; an ability gifted to each of us by God.

And oh, how I need it! Breath whispers and screams through my lungs, pushing my voice through my lips out to those around me. Breath sustains my corporeal being. Holding my breath helps me win at hide and seek. Letting my breath go provides laughter an escape from my body.

Breath is living. To “breathe our last” is to live our ending moment. Breath doesn’t touch my soul, of course, even in death. But my soul goes out into the world by way of my breath’s ins and outs.

Still, I wonder how I know to breathe. How do I know to take in and to let out this oxygen and nitrogen mixture? How can I know I need it, outside of moments when my body feels a threat to its continuance, such as the moment before I break the surface of the water, or when the wind blows too heavily against my face?

As I’ve pondered these things, little though they may seem, it occurred to me that breathing isn’t up to me. I can pretend sometimes that it’s under my power, but it isn’t. No more than the beats of my heart. My body knows to take in air because of one thing only; the command of God for it to do so. In fact, the instances wherein I use my ability to hold or release my breath more often lead to panic than to peace; to hyperventilation more than ease of inhalation. The trick of this art of breathing, this art of living, is in surrender. We must comply with the Word of our Father.

Here’s a lesson in breathing, then; never use control.

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