Breath as Spirit - A Meditation
Close your eyes and feel your body’s stillness. Hear the sounds around you. Feel the temperature of the air against your cheek. Feel your own skin against fabric. Notice what your mind wanders towards, and bring yourself back to your own body.
Feel your breath rising and falling in your human chest made of flesh and ribs. Inhale deeply and accept the air you take in as a gift from the world. Hold it briefly within you, cherishing it and then as you exhale, offer it back.
As you give and receive air into your lungs slowly, picture the face of someone you miss who has died. Say their name quietly to yourself.
As creatures alive in a living world we have bodies. And nearly everything we do in our lives is done for our bodies or the bodies of others, and when we die, these fragile bodies of ours go back to the earth and are remade into something new.
Halloween, All Saints Day, All Souls Day… When a loved one dies and there body is laid to rest, where does their breath go? What is their body remade into? A tree, a bird, a diamond? Where does their spirit go? What is a spirit? Do human beings have an essence that leaves their body? If so, where does it go? Does it travel to the body of another; does it enter a new realm; does it disappear forever; does it float aimlessly; or does it become one with the larger world - like a thread in a tapestry? This list of questions goes on and on, and answering is not the point.
Connection and contemplative confusion is the point. There is no way to know if meditations, or prayer, or blessings, or reincarnation, or souls or spirits are “real”. What I do know, because I have experienced it first hand, is the strong feeling of aliveness my body experiences when I send out my breath to someone I love and miss.
So, let’s try once more.
Breathe in a long single breath… Wait with yourself, within your own body and experience this moment vividly. Feel the air in your lungs and let it tingle a bit as your hold it. You are one of billions of human beings breathing on planet earth at this very second.
Picture the face of someone you love who has died. Speak their name quietly under your breath. Picture their hair, their smile, their laughter. Picture them crying, and in pain. Picture their life before you with its many sides and emotions. Picture them close enough to touch. Picture your breath entering them as you breath out, and their breath entering you as they breath out. Experience this deep connection of breath and spirit.
In a world that is confusing yet breathtaking, finite yet never-ending, be grateful for those that have helped you along your journey. Say thank you to those that have offered you kindness. Respond generously to others for the gifts you have received, however meager or great.
We share this world together, all of us belonging to each other, and as the month of November is beginning, with is descending light, falling leaves, and possible thinness between this world and a world where the spirits of the deceased dwell, be aware of your own mortality be made more fully alive because of it.
As you continue with your day, pause once every hour and take an intentionally deep breath, picturing someone in your mind’s eye, speak their name, and offer them your thanks. Feel that tingling in your chest with the deep breath. Give and receive your gifts of inhaling and exhaling with the world of spirits, opening yourself to the many possibilities of what happens after we die and how we can connect while we’re still alive.
Set aside cynicism. Be open. Ask questions. Sit with them and breathe them in.