Breath Technique or Practice Breath Awareness?

In January of this year, with full joy, I launched a book on the breath entitled, Give Us This Day Our Daily Breath: Weekly Breathing Spaces to Delight, Rest and Reflect In.  It was a birth that had been in gestation for quite a long while…and the actual delivery left me filled with grace and a joyful satisfaction that I had courageously said YES to what I am passionate about without holding back.

For me, it was an action of awareness.  Awareness that I had something to share with the world that every single person could benefit from.  This action of awareness has taken me into the joys of writing and sharing with essentially abandon to the process of creation.  Mining the depths of something that continually fascinates and feeds me – the breath – and expanding that passion to other areas of interest is a “practice of awareness in the moment”.

Just today I received an e-mail from a dear friend which moved me to write this post.  Below is an excerpted part of what she wrote to me and a portion of my response.

“I don’t know if I told you but I carried your book in my bag for a long time.  I would read it at work or in the evenings when I was home and had more time to savor the delightful passages.  My issue is that I get started on a breathing/meditation program but the enthusiasm only lasts for a couple of weeks or months;  then I taper off and before long I have stopped my practice. “ R.B.

“I have a bias R.  To me any “breathing exercise” or “technique” is really only beneficial if it creates a state of being consciously aware of a full embodied breath from moment to moment.  There are many breath techniques that can be immensely beneficial, however are they sustainable and do they shift our awareness to be present in our daily moments of living?

I have learned to simply take 5 minute (or less) “breath breaks” scattered throughout the day to check in. Scanning the body brings awareness to any tension in the body, holding of the breath, or shallow breathing….. without judgement.  Taking a few fully engaged breaths expanding and releasing all of the primary breathing muscles – diaphragm, intercostal (between the ribs) and abdominal, reminds me of being present NOW no matter what is happening,  and allows me to feel alive not just in my mind! The body loves this attention!!

This breath practice of awareness has now become a “habit” in my tool bag that I carry with me everywhere.  I say, if the breath allows us to be more present in the moment to what is happening, and deepens our participation and awareness in that moment, then it has done it’s job (more than merely keeping us alive that is..:-) What a great tool to enliven our life moments!” G. A.


Give Us This Day Our Daily Breath Preview, Reviews, and links to purchase can be found here:


Breathing Space of the Heart

Writing “morning pages”, a practice taught by Julia Cameron, I was lead to reflect this morning on the power of coming from our hearts.  This leads us to the awareness practice of remembering who we are in each moment and is perhaps why we are placed here in this lifetime. The next steps from here are then to take conscious action from that place.

What an adventure to move through all the feelings and experiences of our lives to keep coming back to “remembering who we are”.  Such a simple concept – but one which takes a lifetime (or many) to practice.  The last few days everything that has come in to me speaks to this practice and beckons me to share with you.

Singing last night with a community of “song weavers” I remembered that it is through story, movement, and song shared that we connect and find not only joy, but answers to the challenges that light up our lives.  It brings us back to tribal/community connection, centers us in the miracle of our bodies,  expands our breath and vitality, and brings us back to “ourselves”.

The breathing space of the heart is a space rich with possibilities, ripe with adventure, and resplendent with a wealth of opportunities to “remember who you are”.  I leave you with a Rumi poem that touched me this week.

Lovers and men of intellect cannot mix.
How can you mix the broken with the unbroken?
Cautious men of intellect shrink back from a dead ant.
Lovers, completely carefree, trample down the dragons.
The intellect says, “The six directions are limits. There is no way out.”
Love says, “There is a way.  I have traveled it thousands of times”.
The intellect saw a market and started to haggle.
Love saw thousands of markets beyond this market.



SACRED BREATH – The Ground of Our Being

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,

Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East

or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not

composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or the next,

did not descend from Adam or Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace

of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two

worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that

breath breathing human being.

There are so many ways that we can consider the breath as sacred.  The fact that all living things breathe in some manner – perhaps not with lungs – creates a very intricate network of interconnection.  Our last post quoting Richard Cawte reminds us that this sacred breath is shared, and connects all in an intimate embrace…one which we receive with every inhale and exhale.  As we breathe more fully we enliven every living thing.  We are meant to thrive and to create.  

Indigenous people globally accept the sacredness of the breath and the interconnection with the natural world. Some traditions, such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong have studied it for 1,000’s of years, and in fact have created a science of breath.  In the Native American Medicine tradition “Divine Breath” is a noun. It means the manifestation of the divine spirit in all living beings.  It is also called “life breath”.  The name given it is “ni” or “nilch’i”.  As you listen to this short piece of Native American flute music by Darrel Whitewolf give yourself some moments to feel the sacred breath of the wind moving over the Earth and inside of you.

“We touch the sacred with each breath.  With each breath we just keep dipping into the sacred…  Breath is the vehicle to return to God (the Sacred).  This is the ground of all being. Breath is the vehicle that takes us beyond thought, form, and into direct experience.  The breath takes us beyond words, beyond our ideas, into our deepest truest nature.”

Frank Ostaseski, Founder of Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco and Metta Institute

Our life outside of the protection of the womb is defined by the breath.  When we first enter the outside world our lungs fill with breath and is most often expressed with the sound – sometimes very loudly –  of our voice.  When we leave this life the last thing that is heard is our final breath.  How could something that is with us our entire lives not be the sacred ground of all being.  Our lives are defined by each inhale and each exhale….the pauses being the opportunity for rest and stillness –  to feel the sacred ground of our being.  Beginning our day with the intention on deeply breathing, even for a few moments…and ending our day with the same attention to the breath…reminds us of who we are.

When you breathe deeply and fully, you are breathing the breath that feeds the Soul.  This energy is part of the spiritual force of the universal energy, and it enters your body with every breath.  The breath contains the vital energy of who you are.”

-Jennifer in Australia at

Deep Gratitude to those above that have inspired me this week.