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Feeling the cycle of life


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by Diana Lang

The breath is a cycle. Inhale . . . exhale. The breath teaches us about cycles. It teaches us that if we inhale, we must exhale. That something has a beginning and an end. It teaches us that life goes on, that even after we exhale, another breath will be taken. 

Everything breathes. People, animals, and everything on Earth breathes in and breathes out. In a sense, even the Earth has a breath. Think of the ocean tide coming in and out, like an inhalation and an exhalation. Or think of the cycle of a day, from sunrise (inhale) to sunset (exhale).

There are great cycles and small cycles, like the cycle of a 10-minute meditation. If you start thinking of things in cycles both great and small, you will start to feel a new connectedness to the flow of life. There are cycles within cycles, from breath to breath, minute to minute. Minutes are parts of hour cycles, hours are part of day cycles, and so on.

Situations and events have a cycle and a rhythm, too. For instance, how I start a project affects the outcome of the project. How I begin something makes an impression, like a thumb pressing into soft clay, molding the shape of things to come. The intention I put into anything I put my mind to affects its outcome.

Think of planting a conscious seed into this next cycle, whether it is a project you are working on or the general flow of your day.

As we near the cycle of the New Year, we have a powerful and timely opportunity to practice this idea of rhythms and cycles. The group awareness of a single day has even more power when so many minds collectively are looking at the same subject similarly, and at the same time. The New Year is a powerful cycle of time for renewal and re-intention.

And our breath is our reminder in every moment of these cycles. The breath is the bridge between the soul and the self. It is nonphysical. It is the amorphous mist that bridges matter and spirit. As we inhale and exhale we are in relationship with our lives. We can be inspired ("in spirit") as we breathe spirit in. As we exhale, we share our spirit with the world.

Breathing is as constant as the ocean tides. We breathe in, we inspire. We breathe out, we expire. It is a little death and an end of a cycle. When we breathe in again, we are reborn once more.

Think of your next breath like this:

"I take a breath and I am born anew.
I take a deep breath and I can begin again.
And with this breath, I recognize this new cycle that I am beginning now."

Editor's note: Diana Lang's column appears on Mondays. For more information on Lang, the relaxation expert at StrategiesforNurseManagers.com, please visit her Web site at www.dianalang.com