breath is fearless

October 23rd, 2012

Just this one little thing, the breath, delivers all the wisdom in the world. Each inhalation powers your strength, endurance, and concentration; each exhalation releases your resistance and fears. Life gives continuous testament to the miracle of the breath, and yet, do we really know what the breath is?


When we bring our agitated minds into focus by following the movement of the breath in and out of the body, we experience the reality of the present moment, clear from confusion and anxiety. The breath is fearlessness personified. That can matter a great deal to you in times of pain and panic. How wonderful that all the sages and wise ones, the birth educators and coaches, the doulas and midwives, tell you to breathe! Focusing on the breath is the safest, surest way to overcome fear and let the immediacy of any experience move forward.

When all other schemes and devices fall away, the breath is all we have to use. It never fails us. Now is a good time to get to know your breath, through simple awareness practices such as meditation and yoga. While sitting, lying down, walking, or moving, bringing your attention to your belly and the natural movement of the breath will strengthen your connection to your own life force, the awareness that is everpresent and unafraid. The breath will not only transport you beyond fear, it will deliver you to joy. In the flow of the breath, mother and child come into being, and joy springs to life.

Excerpted from my essay, “Preparing for Childbirth,” in the book, The Mindful Way Through Pregnancy.


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  1. After I’d had a few years of meditation under my belt, I thought how boring, not the breath again. When I really focused, it was stunning to realize how different each breath is from the one before it and the one after, and then how different it is from beginning to end. Everything changes – the sound of it, the feel of it against my lip and nose, sometimes hot and moist, or cold and dry. It really helped me understand that when I’m bored, it means I’m not really paying attention.

    Comment by Dawn Downey — October 24, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  2. When in doubt, in need of guidance, I turn to your words and am rewarded.

    Comment by Joanne — October 24, 2012 @ 11:20 am

  3. going to be in labor any day now, actually. the reminder of breath as a sign of progress , letting the immediacy of the moment pass in the exhalation, particularly relevant to me today. thank you.

    Comment by kate — October 24, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

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