By Patwant Kaur
Photo: Camila Muradas
I’ve been sleeping, sleeping a deep sleep, the sleep of not being awake to consciousness. I believe that my greatest discovery in this life was that of my own breathing. Until then, I lived in an uncomfortable, anxious way, in existential drama, with many physical pains. This uneasiness did not allow me to establish a good connection with the physical body and spirit. How incredible was my meeting with the presence, meeting my praana!
I believe that many have heard of prana, but few know what this means. The prana is the most powerful and creative force in existence. It is the subtle element of breath that gives us life. The prana controls thirty trillion cells in our body, and every 72 hours it is completely renewed.
My awakening to the breath was something deep, and along with it came the perception of how I was living. Talking a lot, watching myself little, caught in my own misfortune, with a low perception of reality. I realized that I needed to do something to achieve a new perspective on life. For this it was necessary to recognize my own breathing as a teacher, a guide, a sage. I had to go through with this process. Nowadays pranayamas are my medicine.
I observe that most people breathe very poorly and superficially. The breath determines the states of the mind. It interferes with the quality of our thoughts, in the way we speak and act. “Those who are suffering in life do not suffer because they are not wise.They are suffering because they are not using the Divine Wisdom, the wisdom of the praana.” – Yogi Bhajan.
Babies when born are born with a slow, deep breath. Throughout life acquired habits and external environment change this rhythm. Life in society demands from us a high level of experience of and response to stimuli. The volume of external information and the use of technology hinder self-observation and mindfulness for breathing. People fall into the living circle of the mind and it is difficult to break this frantic cycle and establish a connection with the body’s natural rhythm.
The human body is a magnificent machine. It gives us daily the breathing praana which is a natural solution to calm the mind. The observation of the respiratory process is something that can be practiced in a simple way during daily life. With practice we gain mastery over this process. We understand that memories of the past or concern for the future do not guarantee us presence. “Life must be lived moment after moment, breath after breath. Life is not guaranteed by years or by time and space.