Exiting the womb, the first thing the body does is breathe. At that moment the air around you is shared by all of life. At that moment you connect with all of creation. With each breath an exchange of gases takes place between the body and the planet. The body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite.
The respiratory system is the mechanism by which this takes place. Its main job is to bring fresh air into the body while removing waste gases. This takes place in each cell of the body as oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide.
In addition to gas exchange the respiratory system monitors the air so that the body is at appropriate temperature and humidity levels. It prompts coughing, sneezing, and swallowing to protect the body from harmful substances, and it supports the sense of smell.
In his book, The Tao of Natural Breathing, Dennis Lewis explains that, "to breathe is to live fully, to manifest the full range and power of our inborn potential for vitality in everything that we sense, feel, think, and do."
Breath is also a social connection. All of us breathe the same air, especially when we are in the same room together. This is not something we think too much about at work, in a meeting, or at a social gathering. Next time you find yourself in this setting use your curiosity to consider the effects of sharing oxygen.
Breath is the essence of life. What is this essence for you and how does it influence your life and how you treat others?
You might like to contemplate this question while enjoying a guided meditation.
This four minute exercise follows the path of air as it travels through the bronchioles and into your alveoli. Send a bit of love to your lungs and discover the essence what is breathing you.