As Tina Turner says, what’s love got to do with it? Everything! And so does breath! I recently moved my 89-year-old mother from El Paso to Mansfield. She has lived in the far west reaches of Texas for the majority of her life. Needles to say, this move has been a huge undertaking for her as well as me. Between the chaos of the move, the stress of changing everything from credit card info to a new bed, we have washed ourselves in love and had to take many deep breaths. You know the saying, take a deep breath. Why? Because in the messiness of life a deep breath helps us to calm down!
In Yoga circles, Pranayama and breath are often treated as though they are the same. But are they? According to Rodney Yee, “Prana is the subtle force that maintains you while breath is what brings oxygen to your cells.” I think we often confuse these two concepts because we use breath patterns as an observational tool during meditation. Using breath as a cue is of course fine and a helpful way to enter into a meditative state but let’s go deeper and free ourselves to a higher level.
When one is upset, the first thing we do is to resort to shallow breathing or even worse holding our breath. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, when confronted with a difficult or messy situation we change our breathing as though our life depended on it. But most events that we encounter are usually not life threatening. So why do we change our breath pattern? Habit, fear, or control. The causes are numerous but the results are always going to kick in the flight or fight mode. This pattern wears out the adrenals and shoves us into the corner of fear instead of the circle of love.
Let’s think about what Rodney Yee says. Prana and breath are different. Breath control helps us to stabilize blood pressure and prana allows love to take over. On the recent flight with my mother we flew through dense clouds. As the plane descended into total whiteness, I held my breath and panicked for a few seconds and then hoped that the pilot did not do the same thing. I had to believe that he or she kept a steady breath pattern and relied on the control panel to guide us to the airport. Mr. Yee, or yoga guru says, “If you let it, prana and love can flow through and into everything and restore the freedom of being.” This is what we have to trust: That God, The Universe, Higher Self or Love will be our guide….. if we can get out of the way!
Remember the beginning of this blog and Tina Turner’s famous question, what’s love got to do with it? In a recent musical accomplishment, Beyond: Christian and Buddhist Prayers, she says that love has everything to do with it! Tina has an answer to her own question in the first selection of the album. The opening song title, “Beyond: A Spiritual Message from Tina”, begins with a bit of chanting and then changes into a spoken message from the music icon. She encourages us to go beyond fear and to enter into love. We can do this with our breath and with letting love be in control.
So, the next time life gets messy or the airplane plunges into the clouds, take a deep belly breath, ease into a rhythm and go beyond fear into Love!
Grace and Peace,