This article was written for inclusion in the program of a symposium on Breath – ‘AL WAT ADEMT’ where I was the keynote presenter, Holland, 7 February 2004.
Breath can be equated to life-for whatever else we may have, if we don’t have breath, we won’t be alive.
There are so many possibilities for our breath, for our lives. In utero, even before we are born, we relate to and learn from the breathing of our mother. Once we are born, in some cultures, including the U.S., the tradition has been not to wait for newborns to find their own time and breath but to slap them on the buttocks, to force them to cry and therefore breathe. Yes, this makes the infants cry, but what else does it do by giving them a message that their natural timing for breathing (and perhaps for everything else) is not good enough?
In many different meditation practices, exercises, and therapies, various forms of breathing and ways to use the breath are taught. But how about our natural breath? Do we really need to be taught how to do what is the most natural, the most life-giving, life-sustaining activity, one that is with us from the beginning of our life on this earth? What about our faith in natural forces? Can we trust our nature and allow it to do what it knows to do best-to be natural, to support us in our natural way?
In my 50+ years of searching, I have restrained, trained, watched, followed, expressed, and depressed my breath in many ways that have resulted in my feeling controlled, pacified, rigidified, activated, inspired, and often very tense (among other reactions). I ask again: how about our natural breath, our greatest gift that gives us life? How can we not trust that basic, natural force that has sustained us since the beginning?
In more than three decades of working with others, I have discovered the power of the authentic breath. I have also discovered the scarcity of our trust in our own natural resources, especially the breath. This is really a scarcity of trust in ourselves, in our own being, in our whole true nature.
My interest is in helping people find their way back to their true selves, not necessarily in teaching them anything new. We always have our natural resources-they are never lost. Sometimes they have been pushed out of shape, slapped, conditioned, or educated out of us, but surely they are still with us, sustaining us in our lives. They can assist us in our search back to our natural being. As a somatic psychotherapist and teacher, I am honored to be a guide and helper for people reacquainting their true selves with their own natural processes. Mine is the role of creating safety and helping the client build resources so that each one can explore, rediscover, and reclaim his/her own whole, healthful being.
I do not mean to deny the power and usefulness of some of the techniques that we have at our hands. I use some of them in clinical practice when appropriate-we must always meet our clients where they are. But I am also always searching for the directions and resources that will help clients let go of techniques and teachings learned from others and trust their own personal power to find their way back to their own natural breath, their own personal, vital way of living.
Our authentic breath can lead us to our authentic life. By allowing our breath to lead us, we can find our way back to the basic trust and security that was our birthright back to the spontaneity and joy we had as children to the peace we are yearning for now. And once we have that sense of authentic self and peace, we can share it with others. In fact we do so automatically-just by our own personal authentic living.
© 2003 Judyth O. Weaver