Are We One or Are We Many?

You are always breathing in or breathing out.  Until you are not. Meanwhile, when you breathe in, what comes in? polluted air? beauty? ease? anxiety?  And when you breath out? What comes out?

    Breathing is a funny thing.  Of all the automatic bodily functions, like sweating, shivering, digesting, it is the one that connects us both inside and out, brings in the outside world, and mixes it with the inside world in an instant.  Our food does this too, but not with the magical lightness of less than a moment. In each breath, we are formed whole, complete and without question alive. And then, again, in each breath, we are dissolved, released, absolved and new.  In each breath lies your whole life. This is creation at its finest. Breath.

    Every cell is breathing.  Every pore is breathing. Every hair is breathing.  And in each cell, each pore, each hair is vital bit of who you are, a vital, alive, script that is uniquely you. Each day cells die, pores clog, hairs fall out.  Each day you are you and then, you are a new you, a transparent fresh skin, blood, face even. So you are you and yet you are the world around you. The air you breath.  The food you eat. The action you take that says your knees hurt or you are ready to run. Sometimes it is hard to know who or what you are willing to be on a given day. And sometimes it is hard to know how to plan or behave about the future.  

    Automatic, life-giving, breathing can also bring life and attention to our experience beyond simple survival. With a simple shift of attention, we can become aware of what we take in, what we give out. The shift of attention that leads us to being with the breath is often called meditation practice.  But if that deters you from doing it, I say, why bother to call it anything. You can just bring your attention to your breath, anytime, anywhere. There, I mean there where your breath is happening, there will be all the “information” you need to be in any given moment.

   And in this simple shift is everything we need to save ourselves and the world from a pointless, meaningless existence. Breath brings you into undeniably intimate contact with the world around you.  The air that you breathe was exhaled by someone else. The air molecules that are now yours, were once someone else. And yours are destined to be shared in the same way. Air connects us all. And through the magic of breathing, it feeds both our uniqueness and our sameness, our oneness and our many.  

   So, what is our future then? Are we one or are we many? How are we both? When we bring our attention fully and completely to each breath these divisions no longer matter, they simply disappear.  We can let go of needing to know who and what we are, and instead, we can simply breathe, simply be. The gift, you could say, of being human. A free gift, you might even say!


Next week more on questions and answers...


Josephine Spilka