“More than ever, awakening to ‘who we really are’ is important not just for ourselves but for society and the world. It is quite clear that we cannot solve the problems we face today with the very same unconscious, manipulative mind that created them in the first place.” –Dennis LewisI heard Dennis Lewis, the author of Breathe into Being, say during an interview on YouTube something quite profound, but rarely noticed by most human beings: our very first act upon entering the world is to take a breath and our final act upon death is to exhale breath. The fact that this singular act of breathing bookends our life makes it worthy of getting to know it better, does it not?
Indeed, this movement of drawing in and exhaling life-giving breath is something we experience non-stop throughout our entire existence. Yet, just how mindful are we of something that happens to our body 17,280 times per day (12 breaths per minute x 60 minutes per hour x 24 hours in a day), every single day of our lives!? For most of us, the answer is, not very. Why? Because breathing takes no conscious effort on our part; it simply happens, thankfully, automatically. Says Dennis:
“You can check in on your breathing any time at all, since you are always being breathed now, and ponder for a moment this essential miracle of yourself, the miracle of being itself breathing.”Notice the last three words of the sentence: “being itself breathing.” Most of us never stop to consider what actually POWERS the mechanical act of breathing—it is simply taken for granted. By becoming silent, and tuning into our body, we can notice that our body is indeed being breathed. To further explain this, here’s an excerpt from the book:
The above quote by Dennis points out that there is something much deeper at work here. That this mysterious invisible force that “breathes us” is in fact responsible for animating the entire universe and every single movement within it! It is easy to forget this as we go about our day-to-day activities. And yet, without this Life force, Life would not exist. Without the formless, there could be no form, for we live in a world of duality. And yet, most everyone is so focused on form, that the formless, the Source, goes virtually unnoticed.
Looking toward the No-Thing that You Are
“The awareness of the ‘breath of life’ as it moves through us draws us immediately (if we pay attention) toward something far greater than the paltry little mental, emotional, or physical ‘I’ that we habitually call ourselves. By spending several minutes each day directing your attention inward toward the underlying energies of the ‘breath of life’—including the physical movements of inhalation, exhalation, and the brief but natural resting place before the next inhalation—you will become quieter inside and more present to yourself as you are. This will enable you to look even deeper inside toward the ‘no-thing’ that you are in your very essence. It will enable you to look toward what you experience when you are zero distance from yourself, toward the silent, spacious receptivity, the pure, impartial awareness, that lies at the heart of being—the simple, undefined, unqualified, I AM. Can you experience this right now as you follow your exhalations and inhalations for at least five minutes?”
And yet, in my own experience, the desire to try to explain the mystery drops away by itself the more one abides in it. It’s as if you see all questions are from the mind, and thus can only lead you to more questions; it’s endless. Mind can never know it’s source, just like a wave can never “know” the ocean. Instead, when the mind is relaxed, a higher power, call it intuition, is discovered.
One discovers that this intuitive knowing is ALWAYS in harmony with Life’s natural flow, and so we begin to awaken and to trust it. As this happens, the limitations and falseness of the beliefs we used to hold to explain events and people becomes more obvious to us, and they begin to fall away. As this happens, our true Self begins to shine through, revealing a peace and happiness that is causeless because it is not dependent on outside circumstances.
“Instead of seeing and welcoming the world as it is, we generally either reject what is in favor of what we believe should be; or we entangle it so deeply in our self-serving stories that what actually is remains hidden from us at the deepest levels.” –Dennis LewisAnother observation by Dennis in the book is that before we are able to take a new, fresh breath, we first must completely empty ourselves of our “old” breath. Out with the old, in with the new. This process is not confined to our breathing, but our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes as well. To take on a new, more empowering belief, we must first let go of our old ones that no longer serve us.
Eckhart Tolle, on several occasions, has talked about the breath being a portal into the now. Why? Because breathing always takes place in the only place it can: now! So, by tuning into our breath, we automatically leave the noisy mind (which is always focused on the past or future) and become present. Through repetition and self-awareness, like any skill, we can become better at learning to be more present. And our breath is always available to help us do this.
“It is not a matter of knowing something deeper about ourselves but rather of experiencing the mystery of ourselves as completely unknown—the miracle of awakeness itself.” –Dennis LewisFinal Thoughts
After reading this little 115 page book (which is broken up into many short, easy to read chapters, approximately one per page), you will never look at your breath in quite the same way. What sets Breathe into Being by Dennis Lewis apart from other books on “breath-work” is that it focuses on the inherent mystical aspect of our breath. In other words, you may have picked up the book in order to become more aware of your breath, but by the time you put it down you realize it is not your breath at all… it’s God’s breath! And this powerful realization profoundly changes the way you view yourself, the world, and your fellow-man. Unity goes from being a nice concept, to what has always been the case, but was simply not noticed because we were so caught up in our thoughts, and so felt separate from everything else. Our breath becomes our ever-present portal back home to the Infinite.
For those that are interested in finding out more about Dennis Lewis, I invite you to check out his website: www.dennislewis.org
MICHAEL JEFFREYS is the author of 9 books. He has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul Vol. 3, and has articles published in The Whole Person, Reader’s Digest, Success, and Entrepreneur Magazines. He is the organizer of the Santa Monica Eckhart Tolle meetup. Look for Michael in the film The Collective Evolution III: The Shift, due out in 2014. His Awakening Blog can be found at: www.mjeffreys.com and the Michael Jeffreys’ Awakening Community on Facebook is at: www.facebook.com/groups/415496431893041/