From the moment we were born, and took in that first gasp of air, our entire existence has revolved around the breath. It’s a vital part of survival that happens automatically, yet among all the automatic physical activities our body performs, it’s the only one that we can also control.

The transformative power of breathing occurs deep within the lungs. Our lungs resemble an inverted tree and magic occurs at the level of the “leaves” at the end of the branches. Here, we make an exchange. We accept one thing, and we release another.

We must release something in order to accept something better.

What we release are the by-products, the waste and even many of the toxins that remain after the proper nutrients have been utilized by our body and released via our cardiovascular system. Our entire being is involved in this process. Every cell and organ benefits from the influx of our breath, and every organ and cell gives up what is not needed, not desired, and is indeed, not beneficial. These things are sorted and separated out. These processes are accomplished unconsciously, through the innate wisdom of the body.

During the course of our lives, we are blessed to experience events that can quite literally take our breath away. Moments of great beauty, these occurrences are the most memorable in our entire life experience. Falling in love – with nature, with a newborn infant, with another person gives our lives depth and great joy. We want to hold on to this beauty for ever and ever.

But what happens when we find that we can’t hold on forever? At the moment of great loss, we also experience that our breath has been taken away. Instead of amazement and joy however, we feel like we’ve been kicked in the gut. It feels like the breath has been knocked out of us. This moment is made more devastating because of the contrast to our memory of the initial joy and beauty.

Every cell cries out, NO. It can’t be. I won’t accept this. Yet, despite the enormity of this affront, we continue to breathe. We continue to live. We continue exchanging toxins for life-giving oxygen. This function of our body to continue processing is awe inspiring. To inspire is to breathe! To keep moving forward after loss, we must focus on this inspiration, on the transformative power of the breath.

The breath will allow us to keep going. Controlling the breath will give us the ability to control our minds and our emotions and allow the stress responses in our bodies to calm and regulate. Our bodies are very intelligent, even more so than our minds.

When we regulate our bodies, it has a profound affect on our mental and emotional state.

There is a compensation for every loss. We just need to find it. And when we do, we discover that we are stronger, wiser, deeper, and more compassionate than we ever suspected. We have been torn apart and we can rebuild. Only this time, we can choose our materials wisely, employ sound construction techniques and build something even better than what disintegrated. Now, with all this experience behind us, we can step to the edge of our fear and take Flight!

Use the Breath to Self-Regulate