This morning, a bright, breezy day in late April, I was sitting on the couch, looking out the window, watching the birds come and go from the feeder laden with black sunflower seeds, and I became aware of my soft breathing. I became increasingly conscious of breathing in and breathing out.
Then I flashed on the brilliance of Michael Brown’s book, The Presence Process: A Healing Journey into Present Moment Awareness. His book engages his reader in a process that enables you to become increasingly aware of each moment. The central part of the process is sitting quietly and connecting your breathing for 15 minutes, twice each day, once just after arising, and once just before going to bed.
We connect our breathing naturally. In other words, we breathe in and out without pausing between our breaths. We breathe gently applying slight effort only to our in-breath. The out-breath is automatic and relaxed. It is useful to visualize a fountain: energy is only required to push the water into the air because gravity will automatically bring it down. Our in-breath is the water being pushed up and our out-breath is the water effortlessly returning to earth. Even though we apply slight effort to our in-breath and relax during our out-breath, it is important to make sure both our in-breath and out-breath are evenly lengthened in duration and that there are absolutely no pauses between them. We must intend to breathe with our inhale and our exhale being one continuous breath--one continual flow. We must not in any way breathe abnormally or attempt to exaggerate our breathing pattern. (Michael Brown, The Presence Process, Namaste Publishing, Vancouver, CA., 2005)
Now I was curious to give this breathing pattern a number, to quantify it. I grabbed a stopwatch and counted the number of times I connected my breathing during one minute: 11 times. At a bare minimum, then, during the course of, say, an 18 hour day, it's 18X60X11=11,880.
This is such a gift because by simply becoming aware of connecting my breathing from time to time as I walk through the day, I am reminded of my Inner Presence; I am reminded that I am the Christ; I am reminded that I am in the world but not of the world. I am of God, His perfect Son, and everything is reminding me of my holiness, my wholeness, my divinity. Here is Jesus expressing this in Lesson 267, My heart is beating in the peace of God.
Surrounding me is all the life that God
created in His Love. It calls to me
in every heartbeat and in every breath;
in every action and in every thought.
Peace fills my heart, and floods my body with
the purpose of forgiveness. Now my mind
is healed, and all I need to save the world
is given me. Each heartbeat brings me peace;
each breath infuses me with strength. I am
a messenger of God, directed by
His Voice, sustained by Him in love, and held
forever quiet and at peace within
His loving Arms. Each heartbeat calls His Name,
and every one is answered by His Voice,
assuring me I am at home in Him.
His Voice is the Holy Spirit. The root meaning of spirit comes from the Latin, spirare, meaning “to breathe.” The Holy Spirit is the breath of God. When you think about it, our voice is simply breath, exhaling from our lungs, passing through our “voice box,” and shaped into words by our throat, mouth, and lips. The words formed are simply hot air. In His Text, Jesus refers to this as a puff of madness. (T-20.lll.8:4) Are we going to listen to this puff, our feeble voice, or attend to the holy breath of God?
Amazing, this is from today's lesson.
Let my own feeble voice be still, and let
me hear the mighty Voice for Truth Itself
assure me that I am God's perfect Son.
The moment I become aware of my breathing, I slip into present moment awareness, receptive to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God. In this state of awareness, all thoughts that have no source in reality fall away, and I experience forgiveness.
Peace fills my heart, and floods my body with
the purpose of forgiveness.
~~~Dear Reader, look up from this writing and breathe in, breathe out.
This opportunity awaits me each time I remember to connect my breathing, and this opportunity is available to me all during the day. How often do I avail myself of this chance to step out of time into eternity each minute, each hour of the day? Do I become aware once, twice, 15 times? 100? Yet, look at how simple it is to give myself this gift.
The little breath of eternity that runs through time like golden light is all the same; nothing before it, nothing afterwards.
This Child in you does not ask for more than just a few
instants of respite; just an interval
in which He can return to breathe again
the holy air that fills His Father's house.
You are His home as well. He will return.
But give Him just a little time to be
Himself, within the peace that is His home,
resting in silence and in peace and love.
Lesson 97 declares I am spirit.
You are the spirit in whose mind abides
the miracle in which all time stands still;
the miracle in which a minute spent
in using these ideas becomes a time
that has no limit and that has no end.
Give, then, these minutes willingly, and count
on Him Who promised to lay timelessness
beside them. He will offer all His strength
to every little effort that you make.
Give him the minutes which He needs today,
to help you understand with Him you are
the spirit that abides in Him, and that
calls through His Voice to every living thing;
offers His sight to everyone who asks;
replaces error with the simple truth.
Give Him the minutes. . .a minute spent. . .
This is a holy instant, but a holy instant is not simply an interval between the past and the future, for that would make it of time. The word interval derives from the Latin, inter, meaning "between," and vallum, meaning "wall." This is a temporal and spatial reference, whereas a holy instant takes you out of time and space, being the state of mind of the peace of God.
In the holy instant nothing happens that has not always been. Only the veil that has been drawn across reality is lifted. Nothing has changed. Yet the awareness of changelessness comes swiftly as the veil of time is pushed aside.
God is with me. He is my Source of life,
the life within, the air I breathe, the food
by which I am sustained, the water which
renews and cleanses me.
When you have learned how to decide with God, all decisions become as easy and as right as breathing. There is no effort, and you will be led as gently as if you were being carried down a quiet path in summer. Only your own volition seems to make deciding hard. The Holy Spirit will not delay in answering your every question what to do. He knows. And He will tell you, and then do it for you. You who are tired will find this is more restful than sleep.
Breathe in and breathe out, Dear Reader, and connect with eternity.