I am grateful for special moments, or special expressions of affection or love, unexpected moments of clarity, or happiness. But I completely take for granted the simple but deep fact that the very conditions of life itself are so arranged to support my existence. That the earth and all the beings thereon are the necessary precondition for everything that I am.

It seems that the indigenous peoples had a deep understanding of their relationship to the earth and all of its life forms. But as an English/Irish/German mix whose parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were all removed from their ancestral homes, homes and cultures which themselves bore little resemblance to the cultures of the peoples who originally inhabited those places, I have no such indigenous background to support any understanding of these truths. And any well-meaning attempts to appropriate parts of indigenous ceremonies and ways seems incorrect. Not only insufficient, but disrespectful. So, how do I come to some sense of relationship? I have to find my own way, knowing that it will be inadequate. But nevertheless, to try.

One thing I try often is to undertake an exercise is to be aware that each in-breath of air is a gift, the contents of which are exactly formulated to the requirements of my body. These include not only oxygen for my physical body, but nameless subtle airs needed for the nourishment of something else within.

And, also, each out-breath contains materials for the plants growing near to me, materials which they need for their own lives, not only carbon dioxide, but also water vapor and substances, which, again, I am not able to name.

Each in-breath and out-breath is a part of the great sharing, weaving a web of connection between ourselves and other life forms.

Perhaps you would like to try. Several times each day, breathe seven breaths, with an awareness on receiving on the in-breath and giving on the out-breath, always being aware of the sensation of the expansion and contraction within the torso that takes place with each breath.

Why only seven breaths at a time? To do such an exercise half heartedly is worse than not doing it at all. Limiting each time to seven breaths allows for me the possibility of a real effort.

As always.


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  1. Thank you. A deep and wonderful subject to explore. No
    Breathing such a primal autonomic practice that must stem back to the dawn of our existence.

  2. Thank you, Tom. Yes, primal is a good word to use. And then the question, do I breathe or am I breathed? What truly is my role, my place, my purpose?

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