Breathing Lessons

If God resides within the breath, what does it mean when you are “short of breath,” with inflammation in the lungs? That was my status, post chemo—another one of the side effects, which takes 4–6 weeks to resolve. Meanwhile, my breathing was slower, my walking slower, everything slower. Was this God’s way of getting me to slow down (even though my life is not fast-paced)? Perhaps the message here is “press the pause button on everything and just be in the stillness of the breath, in which God is ever-present.” Nothing is more important. “You’ve dropped all the pieces of your identity; now just rest in the absence of identification, the presence of divinity.” This is what I am hearing, what I am receiving. Another gift of this experience. Because when you find yourself struggling to breathe (as I did one night recently), you are awakened to the slender thread that holds you to life: one single breath at a time is your lifeline to aliveness. And to God.

When I sat in silence, completely still, awareness of my breath filled my consciousness. Spirit too filled me, and I found myself asking for guidance on how to navigate a path in which there is no longer anything but my soul breathing life into form. The answer that came back clearly was “Love.” If there is meaning in life, it is love itself, the face of God present in all things. Love is the North Star guiding us even when we can’t see it. When all else falls away, there is love in every breath we take because it is the source of life.

As I walk this path of breast cancer, there is much that is unknown, but I do always feel the presence of love—in the hearts of those closest to me, in my own heart, and in something greater, an infinite beingness which humans have named God. The “Great Mystery” that we try so hard to define and understand is best known through the experience of love, looking into the eyes of another or at the wonders of the Earth. Not surprisingly, we often find ourselves breathing deeper at these times, filled with awe and gratitude. Our breath connects us to everything, internal and external. Perhaps this is the greatest wisdom of all: the breath, God, and love are all the same thing. You are closest to God and love when you focus on your breath, realizing you are part of the divine trajectory of all life.

Ironic that the main symptom of the current global pandemic is loss of the ability to breathe, easily or at all. Is humanity symbolically losing its connection to the breath of life (and God)? The Earth “breathes” through its forests and plants (oxygen–carbon dioxide cycle); the oxygen they produce sustains our lives. Yet we are killing them off at an alarming rate. Perhaps we are all, individually and collectively, being shown the importance of something we take for granted: the air we breathe. Because without it, we cease to exist, one and all. The message is clear: Stop business as usual; protect the environment, our shared home. Quiet your mind; remain still long enough, and you will see the connection between your own breathing and everything else, including God. The sacredness of each part of life on Earth will become clear. And your breath is your best teacher.

After my own recent experience of not being able to catch my breath for several very long minutes, I felt a new sense of its preciousness. Later, sitting alone in the darkness of night, I had such a profound awareness of my own breathing. It filled me with Life, yes, but it also filled me with peaceful Presence. Within one single breath is the spirit that holds the universe in the mind of God, and love in the heart of all creation. This seemingly invisible process holds the keys to both planetary life and divine connection. May we honor it as the irreplaceable gift of grace it is.

The Secret of Life

Every time you inhale and exhale, you are breathing the spirit of life, which is God. That’s the secret: The breath is God. In many languages, the word for spirit is the same as for breath. We hold this wisdom within the depths of our souls because it is what we are made of. Yes, we are human, but our humanity is composed of divine spirit. Your physical form is a sacred temple within which God experiences life on Earth. When you breathe, God is breathing. When you look through your eyes, God is seeing. When you look in another’s eyes, you are both gazing into pools of divinity. The only problem is that we have forgotten. We think that breathing is merely a physical phenomenon that arrives and departs with birth and death.

The breath is so much more. It is eternal, infinite. It is everything in all of creation condensed into something that seems very simple: air moving in and out of your lungs. But it is divine spirit that is the source of that rhythmic motion. Spirit that has no beginning or end. When you take your first breath, spirit enters your body as your unique essence, a piece of God. When you take your last breath, your essence, or soul, returns to the wholeness of God. In continuous motion, spirit flows from formless to form and back again. The entire universe moves in this manner—an infinite number of forms arising, flowering, and then falling back into formlessness. Your soul is part of this dance within divinity. Your soul, in human form, breathes spirit into the world.

What animates spirit in the first place? What is the primal cause behind every effect? Love. The infinite love of a creator for its creation. God is the eternal parent loving you, child of the universe, with the breath of life. It is love in its purest form. Divine love animates your life on Earth. With every breath, you are a conduit for that love. You touch everything around you with the divine love that pours from you just by breathing. When you become fully aware of this, you step into your greatest potential as a human/divine being on this Earth. You realize your oneness with God.

How do you become fully aware? Through a gradual deepening of conscious connection to the breath as living spirit. So many meditation practices focus on the breath because they are teaching oneness with God, with all of life. If you want to know firsthand the secret of life, look to your breath. Every time you inhale and exhale, you are one with God. In truth, there is never a moment when you are not one with God. The key is to remember it. To remember where we all came from (infinite consciousness) and how we are always connected to that greater loving Presence. The breath holds the key to everything. When you remember, your very being expands into harmonic resonance, and you are able to love limitlessly. This is what you were born for, to transmit oneness, love, peace, and unity through every conscious breath.

True Love

The word love sometimes loses its impact from overuse. We apply it to so many situations and recipients: people, food, places, experiences, clothing, cars, etc. In most of these senses, it signifies a strong preference or attachment of some kind. It doesn’t usually mean letting go or allowing, which is the greater sense of love. From a spiritual perspective, complete immersion in love is the highest attainment of a seeker on the path to self-knowledge and God realization. Within that experience, “attainment” and the path itself disappear in profound “loving awareness” (as Ram Dass called it). A deep light of unconditional love shines on everything and everyone, without expectation or judgment of any kind.

Such a love allows the world and others to be exactly as they are without prerequisite or paradigm. This is the way God loves—or whatever name you want to give the infinite consciousness that created the universe. God realization does not mean that you become enlightened or God-like. It means you fully realize that you are already enlightened, already God, and always have been. And so is everything and everyone else. God incarnates on this Earth plane to experience itself in an infinite number of forms. On the soul level, we know we are God; on the personality level, we see ourselves as human and thus flawed/limited. The soul exists in limitless loving awareness, and as each human evolves, they move closer to aligning with their soul and seeing the perfection in all things. They begin to love as God loves; they allow everything and everyone to be as they are.

This is the journey we are on now on this planet. The shift of the ages has placed us all at this time and place to open fully to the true nature of who we are. When you realize you are God and everyone else is too, separation falls away. Hatred and injustice eventually dissolve because there is no “other”; there is only One. You begin to observe the gradual evolution of a world into a more loving inclusive place. Every polarity and extreme is being lived out so that we may come back into balance and harmony. Humans often think the world and humanity are fatally flawed. We want to fix everything through our own efforts and attempts at control, based in hugely different opinions and judgments. But there are no mistakes in God. Every piece of this Earth puzzle is designed to fit together perfectly. The resolution has already occurred; we are just living it out.

That may sound a bit far-fetched or complex, but the day-to-day reality is simple. Love this world and everyone in it with all your heart. Your life is a fleeting experience of divine wonder and connection. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss the miracle of loving so widely that your awareness expands to include the entire universe, micro and macro. This is why you came here. You are God loving God in all its manifestations. And God is loving you through everything as well. You are evolving a planet just by opening your heart, by experiencing life as your soul. Loving awareness is the greatest gift you can experience and you can give. Look around you. Are you truly loving what you see? Do you know you are love itself?

There are no false steps here. Don’t worry about how to give or receive love. Just view every part of your life with wonder and joy. Imagine yourself as a soul seeing other souls, each one glowing with light and presence. The Earth and humanity are being reborn through your eyes and your heart. That is the miracle of true love.

Internal Weather

What if the weather outside your window is actually a reflection of the weather conditions inside you? What if your perceptional framework for viewing life shapes everything, including how you see physical conditions such as rain, snow, clouds, and sunshine that appear to be outside you? What if nothing is quite as it seems to be to the mind? What if the world is as you are?

Ever since I was a small child, I have carried within me an at-times-overwhelming grief about the nature of life, death, and eternity. The “human condition” terrified me; infinity terrified me. Late at night, I described my fear to my mother as “the world goes on forever and ever.” She comforted me and tried to help me learn to distract myself with happier thoughts. But the core unease never really disappeared. In college, I found infinity hiding inside my astronomy and philosophy textbooks. Fear of death and whatever came after was always hovering in the back of my consciousness. In my 30s, I turned to a spiritual quest to try to resolve it. That was the beginning of a shift in my perception.

Over the years, I came to a much broader view of life and of God’s presence in the universe. I have experienced a vast inner peace arising from my soul. At times, when I am completely immersed in it, the peace is as infinite and all-consuming as the fear once was. I “know” with every fiber of my being that infinity is actually divine love, which permeates every aspect of life. There is nothing but infinite consciousness expressing, always, everywhere in the cosmos. It is inside me and outside me, and actually there is no inside and outside. There is a seamless Oneness to all Being. This is what I experience, and within that is peace.

Yet there are still moments, usually late at night, when the fear arises, and a tremendous grief accompanies it. Some people are comforted by the idea of eternity; I am terrified by it. Now, however, I have come to see it as a catalyst for my soul’s evolution in this lifetime. It propels me ever deeper within and connects me to divine Presence, which lives as peace in my soul. My human grief also lives inside me. Depending on my state of mind, I can see that grief as separate from and larger than the peace or as only a small part of it. I realize that my humanity is actually how my divinity experiences itself on Earth. My human life pushes me further and deeper on my soul journey, until I completely merge with God consciousness.

Meanwhile, there are times on this path, this journey, that the catalyst of fear awakens me to a new level of awareness about the nature of reality and my life in it. I begin to understand that my perceptual framework (which interprets the world around me, and how and what I see) is dependent on whether I am in human fear or divine peace. And the seeming separation and polarity is actually for my own expansion and growth. Eventually, I will abide in peace without the interruption of fear or grief. The wisdom deep in my soul tells me this, and I trust it as the expanses of peace in my daily life become more and more seamless. When the old grief or fear arises, it is clear to me now how they can shape my perceptions. Rain and snow are just experiences; life and death are just experiences—all of them part of the soul’s journey in this world. If I see them as miracles, that is what they are in my experience. And grief gradually dissolves within Presence.

Whatever You Don’t Want

Consider this possibility: Everything you don’t want in your life (pain, loss, difficult relationships, fear) could be there as a catalyst for you on your soul journey in this lifetime. What you resist or reject may be your greatest teacher. We come to Earth to have experiences, the full spectrum, not just the “good stuff.” That’s what being human is all about. And what is “good” anyway? The viewpoints of today can be completely reversed tomorrow. What you grieve over losing may later be shown to be a huge blessing. So what if everything is a blessing, no matter what it looks like?

Over time, I finally began to see the full truth of that bit of wisdom. I realized that the challenges I’ve faced in my life were in fact huge catalysts for me on my soul journey. Many years ago, chronic headaches and neck pain from a muscle injury led me to explore alternative healing (acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, meditation), which in turn led me to spiritual teachings. And my lifelong fear of infinity/eternity pushed me to go even further with those spiritual teachings. A few weeks ago, during an expansive meditation, I was shown an overview of my lifetime in which so many connections were clear. I could see that the pain and fear were actually my soul guides on this life journey. Suddenly, my wise friend Panache Desai’s words made complete sense: “No matter what shows up, it’s there to take you deeper.”

I can’t tell you how much that insight, that overview, has changed how I feel day to day. I no longer get so caught up in complaining and bemoaning the difficulties of life. I am grateful that I was led to spiritual teachers who helped me reframe the fear and to health practices that helped lesson the pain. And along the way, I have been given the gift of greater compassion for others and greater connection to Spirit. I feel empathy for friends and strangers alike in navigating the challenges of being human. I no longer perceive God as distant or unattainable but instead as an integral part of who I am and all that I experience. There is an Infinite Consciousness that I am aware of all the time now. Its very infinity, what has been my greatest fear, is also the source of my most profound and treasured experiences of the “Great Mystery” that is God. Ultimately, you discover that love is at the center of everything, and only that love is real. The rest are just passing signposts.

So before you react with anger or dismay at some aspect of your daily life experience, pause for a moment and consider that something more could be at play than just unfairness and bad luck. What if the luck is in just being alive? In having such a wide spectrum of human experiences? Souls line up in other dimensions to get the chance to come to Earth for this, both the woe and the wonder. Because within that diverse dance of emotions and reactions is a soul’s opportunity to expand and grow and become a brighter light in the cosmos. Did you think the entire universe was an accident? Look carefully at your life as a whole. Every detail is perfectly designed. You are a human angel, sent here to experience everything, see it all as love, and shine that love outward, across all dimensions.