The Cosmic Breath
I remember quite vividly my first experience with my breath, or should I say the breath of another. I had enrolled in the first of many yoga teacher trainings. When you study the art of yoga you quite often work with partners. This particular exercise concerned the breath. We were to watch our fellow yogin breathing. They would be laying on their back and all we had to do is watch them breathe. My initial thoughts were “this is going to be easy”. It wasn’t. I became unglued. Now up until this time I had been breathing, everyday for 49 years, without a thought, curiosity or wonder about my breath. I guess you could say I took it for granted. My body was just doing it and I didn’t have to worry about it. I could check it off my list of things to do. But as I sat alongside my new friend and observed her breathing, I became aware of the immensity, the enormity and intense beauty of the breath.
The air I am breathing was exhaled in ecstasy by an ancient sun.
At the time I had this deep feeling that I standing on the edge of something. But before I could dive into this unimaginable abyss there were some tensions that had been lurking in my body, mind and spirit. And I needed to attend to them. Now this isn’t a story I tell very often and the energy of vulnerability is rising to the surface even as I sit in my favorite space on a snowy May Montana morning. I am cuddled up in my favorite snugly blanket. I need these comforts around me as I delve into the story of the breath.
This earth I am standing on was born of cosmic fire.
It was December 1985 and a snowy, cold Michigan morning, one week before Christmas. The excitement of the holidays was apparent among the decorations, the smell of baking and the love I carried in my heart for my family. On this particular morning my 21 month old daughter was asleep in her crib and across the hall our baby was also asleep in her little bed. I awoke with a start, looked at the clock next to my bed. It was 7:30 am. My husband and I hadn’t slept that late for close to 2 years. Very quickly the feeling of dread came over me and as it did I jumped out of bed, ran down the hallway and into my daughter’s room. She was dead at 3 months of age.
The blood flowing through my veins was as salty as the primordial ocean.
Back to yoga training. As I sat next to my friend and watched her breathing, eyes closed, the image of my beautiful daughter flooded my memory. You could say that this was the first of many openings into the trauma of losing a child. I am forever grateful for the opportunities for growth this experience brought me and for the care and loving attention of my yoga teacher.
The space permeating my body is infinite as the space all around.
There is something magical about the breath and I have spent the last year with mine. I have studied the rhythms, the flow, and the jerkiness of breath permeating my body. I have come to know that it was way more powerful than I ever could have imagined. It is the doorway into infinity. It is the doorway into beauty, into life, into a deep inner knowing that you are an energetic mystical being.
Above, below, to all sides, within, the elements of the universe are engaged in their ceremony of delight.
At the age of 56 I am now inviting my students into this discovery of who they are. I am inviting them to bask in their infinite beauty through their connection with the breath.
My daughter’s breath and the breath of so many loved ones has joined with the cosmic breath and often I am touched by a light breeze that feels so familiar.
This is my religion. The attraction between suns is the same as the love pulsating in my heart.
Yukti verse 34 of the Radiance Sutras
Martha is a student of Erich Schiffmann, Camille Maurine, Dr Deepak Chopra and Lorin Roche, PhD who translated the Radiance Sutras, among the many other radiant beings who continue to touch her so deeply.