It is important to be able to admit when we are wrong. I have been coming to terms with this more and more as I age. It seems like the older I get, the less I know. Recently, I caught an inaccuracy in a saying I have been using. For years, I have parroted the quote: “the only constant in life is change.” It’s a great reminder that everything is in flux. If times are rough, just wait, it is bound to change. If times are good, make sure you are taking the time to stop and embrace it because this too will change. As Robert Hunter so eloquently put it, “there is nothing you can hold for very long.”
I still feel that this is a valuable sentiment. Understanding impermanence, that everything around us is changing is a great way to relinquish some control. In turn this can help alleviate anxiety.
However, it has come to my attention that there is a constant in our lives. It’s our breath. As long as we are conscious and perceiving, our breath will be there. Now, obviously, we are mortal, and the breath too will end. However, this is an exercise in exploring our emotional response to stimuli, so we can stay within the realm of this lifetime.
Even with the breath, there will always be fluctuations. Exercise will speed up the breath. Sleep will slow it down. Also, anxiety definitely affects the breathing. Have you ever been nervous and realized you were holding your breath? So, the breath is always there but it too is always in flux. However, with awareness and training the breath can be kept more consistent in all situations. Staying aware and in touch with out breathing helps remind the body that we are safe.
The breath is something that just keeps going. Inhaling and exhaling. Life situations will change, the people around us will change, our environment and location will change, our physical form will change but the breath is always there. The breath just keeps chugging along. Now, you might be thinking what about all other bodily functions that will always be occurring as long as we are alive? For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say the breath is needed for everything else. The heart won’t pump without oxygen.
Perhaps now is a good time to pause and notice your breathing. Maybe you have not done that today, this week, or ever. When you finish reading this, I invite you to take a moment to notice the breathing. Is it shallow or deep? Slow or fast? Where are you noticing it? In the nose, the throat, upper chest, lower chest, or belly? Perhaps, you notice it in more than one location. This process of noticing the breath or how we breathe is not about judging or changing the breathing patterns. It is all about noticing how we breathe. When we begin to notice how we breathe, often times we begin to notice a lot more around us. Perhaps you will start to notice the subtle ways in which everything around us is shifting and changing. After all, the only constant in life is our breath.