Breathing in Soul-Light
I shouldn't be surprised that I repeat myself in my writing and particularly in my blog posts. I've been blogging for over a year on this blog, and then for years before that on previous blogs. As I set out to write this post, I was drawn to a John O'Donohue book, Four Elements. I wanted to re-read his breathing meditation – the one where he instructs you to breathe in light and lightness, and breathe out darkness, “clods of heavy charcoal sadness” which he says can “leave your soul on the outward breath.” I admit to being surprised that indeed, I wrote about this meditation exactly one year ago.
So there must be something about this time of year, requiring meditation, requiring light.
In the same chapter as O'Donohue talks about the breathing exercise he also talks about prayer. He says, “It is not going too far then to claim that when you pray, you are breathing some of the light of your own soul back into your body. This is a lovely idea – nourishing yourself from your own soul-light and through the rhythm of your breath.”
O'Donohue also says, “One should not go out into a new day without first grounding, stilling and centering oneself in the light.”
He connects the breath with light as he talks about the word “inspiration.”
He says, “One of the loveliest words in the English language is the word ‘inspiration.’ It signifies again the creative breath. It also has to do with spontaneity, with the arrival of the unexpected image or idea in the mind. Inspiration is the flash of connecting light that suddenly comes from elsewhere and illuminates.”
In meditation, he says, we are in the now. When you are meditating, breathing in, inspired, you are in the now. You're not worrying about the past, the blunders you made yesterday, and you're not worrying about the future, you're not worrying about your to-do list, or what's for dinner. Inspiration is going to happen in the now, as you breathe in, and out.
There is turbulence all around us, this is pretty much a given. There is another beautiful direction that O'Donohue gives, via Meister Eckhart, which I think works for most people, whatever their background. In the now of meditation or prayer we can find ourselves. The directive is: “be who you are.”
In fact he says, “This is one of the great spiritual duties.” He encourages us to “sit down, slow down, and try to be who you are.”
So, let's begin our day, breathing in soul-light, being exactly who we are, in the now. Let's make a little space for quiet, for breathing, for in-spiration.
How does that transform how we meet the day? How does this practice change the way we meet each other?