The Power of Breath

I was tested the other day: I was asked to describe what ‘stillness’ meant and how to go about embarking on ‘living in the flow’.

For me, ‘stillness’ represents inner peace which comes with stillness of the mind – the absence of worries, busy thoughts and (emotional) attachment to making life conform to the way you think it should. It’s being open to the kaleidoscope of opportunities that are available to us, each day. It has nothing to do with passivity; rather when we achieve ‘stillness’, we are fully receptive to our own intuitive/inner voice; and, in so doing, are well on our way to receiving or achieving that which we truly desire.

‘Living in the flow’ is allowing life to unfold as it’s supposed to, in a natural and unforced way. It’s an awareness of the opportunities life has to bring, listening to one’s intuition and allowing things to evolve in the absence of stress, strain or (inner) conflict. It is trusting that you are on the right path and that whatever you wish for with your heart, you will receive, although it may not come in the packaging you may have expected…

I would best describe the experience of ‘living in the flow’ as living in simplicity, ‘travelling light’. ‘Simplicity’ calls for honouring ‘the natural’, ‘the uncomplicated’ – the rhythm of life. It involves attuning oneself to its pulse, the tempo of which is unrestrained.

How to arrive at a state of ‘living in the flow’ is more complex to explain. I would argue that there are many elements that allow us to create and recreate this experience. These include learning love for and acceptance of self, trust (and importantly self-trust), (self-) compassion and maintaining a healthy mind-body dialogue. Despite their importance however, these may not necessarily constitute prerequisites for ‘living in the flow’.

Meditation helps – and for me lies at the core of this practice – but it need not be ritualistic, in the sense of spending long periods in silence. Neither, I believe, should it involve any sort of strain. Ideally it is effortless but requires training the mind.

As breathing isn’t something to which we often pay attention, I find it helpful to punctuate my day with moments – literally 20 seconds or so – of silence where I concentrate on breath and thereby re-focus my thoughts.

I often add an intention. For example, when I inhale I express ‘cherishing myself’; as I exhale, I express the desire to ‘cherish others’. In so doing, I bear witness to the fact that we are all seeking the same goals: to be loved and to be happy. This practice not only enables me to re-attune my attention to my body and empty my mind of busy thoughts, it also allows me to notice how and where my energy is flowing: Am I holding my breath? Or am I allowing my energy to flow, naturally and unhindered?

I find that repeating this, a couple of times throughout the day, I keep track of the blocks or tensions we unwittingly create within. If unreleased, these blocks can create physical as well as mental rigidity… Strange though it may seem, it is through the experience of observing breath that I personally feel most alive as I expand my awareness from myself to the entire universe and reflect on this miracle we call ‘life’.