POEM: Breathing

Thinking about breathing makes it more difficult

Amazingly, and quite fortuitously, people can breathe without thinking.  Breathing is something we know how to do without having to think about it.  Thankfully, thousands of bodily functions fall into this category.  Fortunately, we don’t have to think about digesting a meal, or even know the intricacies of how digestion occurs.  Breathing is somewhat special in that it occurs without our volition — and even against our volition if we try to stop breathing — yet we can alter our breathing if we want.  Breathing is under both unconscious and conscious control.  This is why many meditation experts use breathing as a focus for developing awareness of and harmony between our conscious will and the many natural, well-regulated processes outside our consciousness.  Most people who have ever tried breath meditation techniques immediately learn that conscious thought can interfere with the natural process of breathing.  Some things are better left alone.  This poem is intended to cause reflection in the reader about the benefit of leaving alone these many natural, well-regulated processes outside our consciousness.  Humans have a bias toward conscious control of themselves and their environment.  The great gift of volition needs to be balanced with a respect for life and nature and its own wisdom, that doesn’t require our will for harmony to exist.  Perhaps ironically, willing ourselves to let go of the need to will is often the best solution for us and the rest of life.  Of course, adding another few thousand tasks to our do-not-do list can be more freeing than free will itself!  May you freely relax into your life.


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