And why we must listen
I've been putting a lot of thought into fresh air lately. I think some of it has to do with being outdoors more now that the weather is warm and the lilacs are fragrant. It all reminds me how much I missed feeling free to breathe when I lived in the cities - where everything was crowded, and people forced their way into your space with their smoke and their fumes and their general decay. It's not like that here, and we're all lucky devils for it.
It makes me wonder how people can stand to live in places like Houston or Los Angeles - two of the most polluted American cities. Isn't clean air a basic human right? Who would want to go their whole life without ever tasting this sweet freedom? Worse yet, who could leave one of those cities to taste it, and then return and choose to forget real air? That disturbs me.
I am obsessed with breathing. I suppose we all are, in a sense, but I'm taking it to the next level here because the action is so much more than a physical necessity. So much more than a confirmation of life.
Learning to breathe deep can take you out of trouble areas. It can help you stifle anxiety, and put you in control of something very basic and vital in times that may otherwise seem out of control. Times that are emergencies, or times that you recognize a reaction you're having that you deem undesirable.
For instance, sometimes I get bunched up with anxiety over a decision, or frustrated at the feeling of being backed into a corner or being held down - unable to do what I want (yes, I'm fiercely stubborn of my personal freedom). In these instances, I try to let go. I try to release my ownership over said decision or condition, and circumvent the issue with a deep breath that pulls me back into the bigger picture. Nothing pulls you back into the big picture like pure, clean air in your lungs.
In this way, breathing affects time, or at least our perspective of it. The act allows us to slow time. Think of it this way - by taking long, slow breaths, we slow time around us and enter the bigger picture, allowing our minds to enter a state of simplified processing. On the other side, aerobic exertion floods our blood with oxygen and helps our energy level do a lot in a short amount of… you guessed it... time.
The state of falling into the big picture is really about connecting with our mortality in the universe. That is to say, when we let go, when we seek oneness with all and nothing, the problems set before us truly become small, pitiful things indeed. Entering the big picture means this problem you face cannot harm you, not really - it's no longer a life and death struggle, it just is, and it will pass, just like you.
This must be one of our most valuable natural tools, then, to be able to bypass undesired behavior, fleeting emotions, and even irrationality. Stop, take a deep breath, and move on - that's a recipe for patience.
When your mind is clear, your conscience also becomes clear. In this state your mind is at ease, and the right choice floats to the surface. Sure, the right choice isn't always the easier path, in fact it almost never is, but it is the path that will be most rewarding in the long term. What better way to start down the right path than by taking a deep breath first?
"A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
See you out there,
A woodsman in training.