— Ruby Malshe

It’s time to welcome their child into the world but the man and woman are stressed. They are anxious about becoming parents. A number of questions flood their minds. Will their child be a boy or a girl? Will it be fair or dark skinned? Will it be normal or otherwise? Faith as if flies out of man’s life from time to time leaving him flustered with anxiety. If only in moments such, he would just concentrate on his life giving source – HIS BREATH, he would be much at ease.

The human body miraculously performs several functions which science informs us are some voluntary and some involuntary. Breathing however is one function that is both voluntary and involuntarily managed by the super craftsmanship, our creator has bestowed upon us. Our breath, in fact, is the very presence of our creator in us.

If you want to get in close touch with Him, just choose a quiet corner, leaving all thoughts and work aside and concentrate instead on your breath and with every incoming breath believe that ‘He is in me’ and with every outgoing breath believe that ‘I am in Him’.

As we eat to sustain our organic and physical structure with the intake of food, our body begins the process of digestion without even our awareness. Everything and anything that we put therefore into our mouth has to go through the process of digestion which is involuntary. The will to consume the food was ours. We had, before we put it in our mouth, the capacity to choose correctly but once we made the decision, we lost all power over it. No matter how hard we tried, we could not influence a reverse in the digestive track. It is only a very conscious mind, a mind aware of its connection with its creator which could do so.

This reminds me of a story of a saint by the river where in a saint was seen catching fish and eating them staying with his disciples. The sight was disturbing to the novice in the spiritual world who felt envious of the delicious food the master was depriving them of. When the master retired for some rest after the non-vegetarian meal, they didn’t hinge from following his footsteps. So off they went with a net in hand to catch some tasty bites which they roasted over a fire and consumed with great relish. Soon however, after his nap the master instructed everyone to pack up as they had to move from that place and so many feet followed the two leading footsteps. After a few hours the master told everyone to rest at a sea shore. As soon as the meagre belongings were put aside the master went close to the water. The waves as if came to touch his feet in obeisance and then retreated to allow other waves to get a chance to do the same. As the disciples watched the beautiful sight, they suddenly noticed that the master was throwing up in the water. Worried they ran up close to him but to their surprise what they saw was unbelievable. The master was throwing up the fishes he had consumed earlier from the river water into the waters of the sea. As they saw this sight the only thing they could do was to hang their heads in shame.

Breathing however is one function of our body machine which is managed by our unconscious mind largely, but if we so desire we can also at any moment in our life grab it with awareness to control it. We can hold our breath or breath fast or slow or even in a rhythmic pattern giving a musical quality to living. Breathing in fact is one of the greatest functions our body manages to do without ever stopping. Sadly though, we don’t pay much attention to it or rather most of the times even ignore it. The world today has gradually understood the value of every breath. Meditation skills which concentrate on the breath are today show casing the immense power of the breath to change lives.

The yogic exercise of alternate nose breathing popularly known as ‘Anulom vilom’ has shown one and all who practise it the wonders controlled breathing can do to the health of man. In this exercise the breath is taken in through the left nostril when the right nostril is kept shut and then exhaled through the right nostril when the left nostril is kept shut. Once again the process is considered to be completed when keeping the left nostril shut the breath is taken in through the right nostril and then exhaled through the left one when the right nostril is shut once again. This whole procedure is considered as one count of the entire exercise. This exercise has been of great help in reducing stress and many patients of high blood pressure have been benefited from its practise as it has an immense effect on calming ones nerves.

This ability of control over our breath is a wonderful gift our creator has given us to heal ourselves in body, mind and spirit. High stress levels today are medically known to cause physical and mental damage to our bodies and minds. Having control over our breath with its calming effect will help us keep a check on our responses to various stress giving situations in everyday life.

A control of our breathing pattern not only helps us to face calmly, anxiety producing situations but also creates calmness around us wherein we can become more focused on peace.

Situations in life cannot certainly be in our control but the way we breathe can help us face the situations with a more calm and focused mind. People who regularly practise breathing exercises have also found a great improvement in their health. Scientific research today even boasts of a lowering in the blood pressure, sugar levels and increased heart rate due to focused and concentrated breathing.

Moreover an individual who will practise regular controlled breathing exercises will also begin to feel a meditative peacefulness and calmness in his being.

The point to be taken into consideration now is that if there are so many benefits of voluntary breathing then it would be nothing but foolishness on our paths if we were not to incorporate it in our daily lives.

In the hustle and the bustle of a fast life today, man as if has to his loss forgotten the importance of breath due to which he considers himself alive. In his hurried race of living we often hear him voice ‘I have no time to breathe’. This expression of a taxed and a burdened life must be got rid of. Breath control if introduced in schools (with soothing background music) as an important prayer alternative ritual would be far better than words mouthed without any interest where children only wait longingly for the assembly time to be over.

The choice then to make our lives better as I hope we can understand is in our breath.

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