(Breathing is the second dimension in John W. Travis’s 12 Dimensional Model of wellness, but I found them through Michael Arloski’s book Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change)
One does not have to look far these days to read about the effects both physically and physiologically when it comes to the breath. The action of breathing and finding breath is now used across a wide variety of modalities to center, ground, and come back to self. Breath is the source. It is the lifeline to all that we do, and all that we have done. All of these new breathing techniques may seem like quackery, but there is something very real in coming back to the breath.
When was the last time you counted your breaths? When was the last time you actively breathed? We are all breathing because breath is life, but when was the last time you acknowledged this force? If it has been a while, don’t worry. It is that way for many people. We get so caught up in the responsibilities and hustle of life that we keep going, knowing that our breathing will take us where we need to be, even if we completely forget about it.
But this simple act of connecting down into the breath does not have to be surrounded by the ideal setting of quiet reflection on a grassy hill. We can connect to breath anywhere. I like to connect to my breath while driving. I don’t need to close my eyes, and I don’t need to be completely serene. In fact, driving to school in morning traffic is probably the last place where we might expect to connect to breath, but I have found that is one the places where I need it most.
Feelings and emotions take about 90 seconds to process. That means that for 90 seconds, our physiology is responding to the waves of physical output from emotional input. In these 90 seconds, if we can allow ourselves to honor, hold, and learn about what is triggering us, it usually will drift away without physical consequences.
This is why I love connecting to my breath while I am driving. Anyone who drives in rush hour traffic can probably speak to the collective energy. Everyone is in a rush. Everyone needs to be somewhere. I often feel like there is a cloud of negativity while I drive. Someone is cutting someone off. Someone is being a jerk. Someone is getting pissed off, and people try to vocalize the cause and effect of right and wrong with their vehicle. Obviously this is not the place. It is dangerous and stupid, but road rage is a real thing.
But I ask: what would happen if instead of getting furious at the person who cut us off, we counted to 90? What if we used that 90 second time-frame to recognize we are angry and feel wronged, instead of acting out our feelings? This is not easy. No one is perfect at this, but it has become something of positive importance to me. By using those triggers to connect into my breath instead of lashing out I go deeper into myself, and spare myself from negative energies in trying to scrap with someone else.
Breath is such a powerful force. It can shape and mold how we deal with the hardest of situations. It is the sound we long to hear from just-born babies. It is the echo that we will slowly, but continuously put out there. Our breath is ours, and even when someone has wronged us, even when the unthinkable happens, we have our breath. Breath can help us cope through painful situations, and keep us centered as we attain victory. The King of Pentacles is a perfect example of of physical recognition and physiological mastery. Often the King of Pentacles is associated with ample wealth, but I would argue that having breath at all is more ample wealth that any material thing.
This idea has been surfacing for years, and now it is everywhere. From yoga to public speaking to coping mechanisms, breathing is becoming a real ally for us all. It grounds us down to the source, but expands our consciousness to the energies around us. The King of Pentacles is expansive in his physical abilities, and his physical kingdom. He rules over more than just his body, but it starts with him. The King of Pentacles can always find control over some physical dominion because he has learned how to control the inputs and outputs of life. We don’t have to be the King of Pentacles to start this process. Just start to acknowledge the breath. Count to 30-60-90, and breathe.
(Tarot card shown is from the Ostara Tarot)