Four elements of the human body had an argument one day. The brain, the breathing, the heart and the arsehole (rectum). They argued who was most important. “I am said the brain, without me, you are all vegetables” – “ha, said the heart, if I don’t pump blood you’re all dust and so with this, the heart skipped a beat to show its importance. Everyone gasped. Then the lungs spoke up, “Phhhhh you call that important?” and with that the lungs just refused to take another breath. And things got very tense. But eventually, the lungs had to breathe, the heart had to beat and the brain had to think so they were all quite stuck in survival mode. And now the arsehole spoke with a really cheaky smile “just watch this” said the arsehole, and with that, it shut tight, refused to open. Within a short period the argument was over, arsehole won, the stench inside that body was so overwhelming, they all capitulated, “arsehole, without doubt, you are the most important.”
BUTT today is World Breathing Day. I have no idea who came up with the idea, probably some a-hole. 🙂
Anyway, Happy World Breathing Day! How about a short breathing practice to celebrate? From the web site of Eddie Stern in NYC.
“We have all been breathing every day for our entire lives, so we don’t need a lot of information to get started with a breathing practice or pranayama practice—we’ve already been doing the preparation, which is that we were born, started breathing, and now here we are. So, no need to delay further. Please sit comfortably either on the floor, in a chair, or supported against a wall. There’s no need at this point to sit super straight or in a complicated cross-legged position.
The first practice is simply to be aware that you are breathing. Take a few minutes to begin observing and feeling the breath moving in and out of your nostrils, in and out of your body. As you bring your awareness to your breath, it might start to change. Because breathing is an automatic process, we are usually not aware of it until it does something out of the ordinary—like if we’ve been running or climbing a flight of stairs and we feel out of breath, or we get frightened and our breathing speeds up, or we are in a panic and start to hyperventilate. In normal, everyday life, we are seldom aware that we are indeed breathing beings.
So, take a few minutes to be aware that you are breathing, and feel it. You can close your eyes if you like, or keep your eyes gazing towards the ground, or your hands in your lap. Observe and feel the changes that naturally and spontaneously happen as you keep your awareness with your breathing. Try doing this for at least three minutes, and if it’s enjoyable, for up to fifteen minutes. If you feel any anxiety or stress while doing this practice, open your eyes, take two or three really deep breaths, and then get up and go do something else for a little while, something that brings your awareness away from your breathing, and grounds you back in your body. If you are not used to sitting with your breath, it can be a little unnerving in the beginning, but then, with incremental practice, you not only become used to it but look forward to it.
As we breathe, oxygen comes into the lungs and is picked up by red blood cells, which then carry and distribute the oxygen they carry to every single cell and tissue in our body. These cells then make use of oxygen to carry out all of our life functions. We are truly a breathing body, and much of the breathing that occurs is internal, called cellular respiration. As you do this first practice, imagine your whole body breathing with each gentle breath that comes into and then leaves your lungs.
As well, we are not simply discrete breathing bodies, but the world we live in is a breathing body as well. The biosphere that we live in circulates oxygen, water, heat and all the basic components of life. So for your next few breaths see if you can feel your breath as an extension of the breath of the biosphere. The pulsation of breath is the pulsation of life.”