The Habit of Being Open: Breathing Into a New State of Consciousness
By Marc Lerner
Being open is one of the best habits we can develop in starting off the new year. The idea of being open often refers to being able to accept new ideas. But, to me, it means being able to accept a new state of consciousness. One way to practice this is by paying attention to one of the most basic things that sustains us everyday — the breath. You can profoundly affect the quality of your life by noticing the breath, and simply changing where your 'in-breath' lands.
We normally breathe into our thoughts, which gives life to what we think, but what would happen if we breathed into silence? When we breathe, our breath determines the level of consciousness that we operate from. This is a habit, and it triggers our thought patterns, our behavior, our creativity, and the ability to problem-solve. This is considered who we are, or our ego.
Breathing into silence causes our breath to travel deeper, freeing us from our everyday consciousness and allowing us to explore the spiritual world of silence. Our breath floats beyond our thinking and lands in a place we are comfortable with. It is a way of conditioning our mind, so it happens spontaneously without our thinking about it.
I talk about this often in my writings. Sometimes I feel a beautiful state of love, for no reason at all. I could be alone, not even meditating, watching TV, or having anything trigger it. I feel my heart expand and my breath floats to a depth. Here are some other benefits I get from the habit of breathing into silence:
- Before sleep — it helps to establish a restful mind.
- Entering silence without unfinished business pulling you back into your mind — for instance, if I had an unpleasant experience that day and I keep thinking about it, breathing into silence frees me.
- Clear-minded communications — where I focus on one thing at a time, especially in a loving interaction or with prayers, the breath supports me.
- Creativity — when my mind is receptive, I can receive creativity more easily, bubbling up deep from within.
- Dealing with disruptive thinking habits — ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘I don’t deserve this.’
- Having a hard time remembering something — in the same way that creativity bubbles up and is received by my calm mind, what I want to remember is also received when my mind is calm.
- Patience — waiting with nothing to do can make me impatient. But by practicing this habit, I feel it is a pleasure to have this time to simply receive.
I believe this is one of the most important habits you can develop. I suggest, before you go to sleep at night and before you get out of bed in the morning, you practice breathing into silence for at least several minutes. This is how you can create a habit of breathing this way. By noticing its effect during the day and being pleased with it, you can reinforce it.
Marc Lerner, age 62, has had multiple sclerosis since 1981. A Michigan State graduate in psychology, he worked for 25 years with cancer and AIDS patients, veterans with PTSD, and the mentally ill homeless. In 1982, he founded Life Skills Institute and began writing and giving seminars. His books include A Healthy Way to Be Sick, The Positive Self, and The End: A Creative Way to Approach Death. All are available on Amazon. His website is lifeskillsinc.com. Marc can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marc's essay on Approaching Death Consciously was published in Issue 60 of Crazy Wisdom Community Journal.