Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finding the Breath . . .

As I mentioned in my last post, I am writing a series on the five koshas, or sheaths/bodies. They are 1) the physical body, 2) the breath body, 3) the mental body, 4) the intellectual/meditative body, and 5) the Divine body. Today, I am going to focus on the breath body.

I feel like this topic could be a book – how our breath affects our life and vice versa. I will, however, try to keep it short and perhaps return to the topic again. In many ways, the breath is our greatest teacher. It also rejuvenates us when we are tired and calms us when we are nervous. Our breath is our first connection to the depths of our being once we get past the physical body.

As important as the breath is, many of us simply ignore it. How often do we take conscious breaths. After all, breathing is one of the functions that will continue no matter how little attention we pay it. In this world, where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of issues that arise every day vying for our attention, is it any wonder that the parts of our lives that are automatic we allow to take care of themselves?

As noted in the last post, in order for us to function at our best, all of the koshas must act in balance. Thus, if we are to be able to fully utilize our brainpower and our intellect, our breath must be in balance and must be fully functioning. There are numerous breath techniques, each with its own healing properties, but this post is called “finding” the breath, so we are going to focus on that. The first step, before we ever get to the particular techniques, is to locate the breath and bring our awareness to it.

This is one of those, “easy to say, hard to do” moments. When we get caught up in life, in stress, in physical pain, in mental blocks, etc., the last place we want to turn our attention is to our breath, but often, when we do, and we take that deep breath in and just let it out, the problem we face shrinks in size. Does it go away? Of course not (well, sometimes it does, but rarely). Instead, the breath is our reset button, and it tells the body and the mind that they get to start over. Just like restarting a computer, sometimes that provides enough to face the moment with a new sense of purpose.

So why did I start by saying that the breath is our greatest teacher? Well, when we learn to tune into our breath and notice it, we can begin to understand the state of our body and mind from a new perspective. When our breath is short and shallow, very often our chest feels constricted and our thoughts come and go with no real focus. When, by contrast, our breath is long and deep, we feel more open and lighter, and our thoughts begin to focus, and we are better able to concentrate and move through our days with intention. The breath helps us know where we are.

So, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “what is my breath telling me?” If you lost it before, try to find it and learn what it has to offer.

Namaste and Blessings.

© 2010, Rebecca Stahl all rights reserved. 


  1. Great article. Return to the breath in the busyness of the day can be tricky. Thanks for your insight. @yours_mindfully, Mark =)