I read The Sun Also Rises while on vacation. I didn't intend to. I didn't bring it with me; my son did. He had planned on reading it for an analysis paper but, by the time he got to maybe page 16, said it was so bad he couldn't read it any longer. I had never read it or, at least, I don't recall reading it. But I can barely remember specifics from last week, let alone a millennium ago. So, I picked up the book on a flight and started reading. It is pretty boring. The entire book involves approximately six main characters that are so lost in life, so lacking in purpose, that they try to find happiness in drinking, sex and sport. Out of the 251 pages in this book, I really should have kept track to see if there was even one that didn't mention beer, wine, or someone being "tight"; they drink at breakfast, lunch and dinner and constantly meet each other in between to keep drinking. They are all broke from the money they spend on alcohol and travel in their attempts to be happy. I'd like to tell you they find it; they do not. In fact, none of the characters grow in this novel except Jack who almost finds some type of clarity but then goes to get a drink.
One cannot seek happiness from the outside in. The inspiration is that there is always the possibility of change. But, you need to know what it is you want to change; awareness must come first. Continuing on the same path is stupid, assuming you really do want change. If you seem content, then maybe you are smart for staying aligned with what makes you happy. If any of the characters in the book were happy with drinking and sex, I'd say good for them! But they are not and it plays on their unhappiness. Make sure your happiness stems from within and is not a figment of illusion.
Harish Yohari in "Breath Mind and consciousness" writes, "According to the scriptures of Swara Yoga, Shiva Swarodaya and Gyana Swarodaya, the life span of a man is measured not in years but in number of breaths."
In reference to how long we have to live to work through these changes, yogic philosophy says we are all given the same number of breaths here on earth. Do not mistake that for meaning we are all given the same amount of time. We all lose our breath in different ways. Highly stressful jobs, bad relationships, hanging onto grief or guilt, running around to seek knowledge and happiness externally...these all lead to a shorter breath. If I am anxious or stressed, my breath is more shallow and staccato. Chest breathers, those who have not learned to breathe fully with their entire lungs, take shorter breaths than students of pranayama, yogic breathing. Learning to deepen the breath slowly and smoothly leads to a longer inhale and exhale, therefore, one breath over a longer period of time. Add that up in days, weeks, months, years! It could amount to years.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati in "Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha"states, "The ancient yogis and rishis studied nature in great detail. They noticed that animals with a slow breath rate such as pythons, elephants and tortoises have long life spans, whereas those with a fast breathing rate, such as birds, dogs and rabbits, live for only a few years".
Almost everyone is familiar with the Hilary Cooper quote, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. " If you are not internally happy, externally present, how do you even recognize the breathtaking moments?
So why would anyone choose to shorten their life span? Why wouldn't we all seek a longer breath? Let's assume this yogic premise is unbelievable or even incorrect. Why do some of us choose still to shorten our life span? Many people feel trapped by jobs, family, relationships, money, life. But the beauty of life lessons is choice. Even if you financially cannot afford to make a transition, I think we all have a place, in and out, that recharges our soul. Do you take time to go there? Mine is the ocean. It reminds me to breathe and I become very present trying to observe each and every foam crested wave. I follow the path of the seagulls and pelicans in their flight. I soak in every detail as though my soul demanded it. I am fully present. Each visit, I try to inhale enough ocean to get me through until the next visit. I use the image of the ocean in my mind, in meditation, to bring me back. I hear the ocean, taste the salt, absorb the wind.
Where is that place for you? Why wouldn't you take a few moments from your day to close your eyes and recharge your spirit? What stops you from pulling up a picture of your place on Google and deepening your breath as you take in every minute detail? Does it seem too trivial? Are you fearful of becoming too close with your own Self? So here's the question I have for you today...do you choose to look away and stifle your own breath or is today the day you reawaken and breathe?