Breathing through the nose

Who has­n’t been told at least once in their life to breathe through their nose ? This call for calm hides a sim­ple wis­dom. I recent­ly down­loaded a med­i­ta­tion appli­ca­tion (Calm), intrigued by the good reviews it receives.

Since then, almost every morn­ing, and some­times in the evening when I can’t sleep, I launch the appli­ca­tion which offers me a ten-minute exer­cise or a real tale to sleep in (much more like an avalanche of so many words that one ends up los­ing consciousness).

A friend of mine, who also tried the appli­ca­tion, said he was annoyed by Tama­ra Levit­t’s voice, which is not my case, maybe sim­ply because the sub­ject is intel­li­gent, acces­si­ble as long as you under­stand Eng­lish, of course.

One could fear that this type of appli­ca­tion only offers super­fi­cial exer­cis­es based on cheap psy­chol­o­gy. For­tu­nate­ly Calm does not fall into the trap, I think. I already know, in the­o­ry because I’ve read it many times, what it says. The short med­i­ta­tion that is pro­posed is essen­tial­ly the same, name­ly to become aware of one’s breathing.

It sounds triv­ial and yet it is not. That is why, in moments of anger or stress, we are remind­ed to breathe through that nose that chan­nels every­thing. Clos­ing your eyes, inflat­ing your lungs with air, feel­ing the pres­sure, and then let­ting go, with your mouth closed so that your breath must pass through the nar­row chan­nel of the nos­trils, pro­vides a calm that must be strange­ly tamed.

Impa­tient, the thought tries to fill the void, Mrs. Levit­t’s soft singing air­port voice keeps telling us so. It’s not so much to oblit­er­ate the pow­er­ful machine that it oblit­er­ates the brain as to observe it per­haps a lit­tle more from a dis­tance. An idea comes to you dur­ing your med­i­ta­tion ? That’s fine, but don’t let it take over the whole field. Tell her that you have tak­en note of it and that you will come back to it in ten min­utes at the most. If you for­get it, it was­n’t that impor­tant in the end, but if she comes back, she’ll know to wait until you’ve fin­ished meditating.

The secret is to stop every day. This is sim­i­lar to those prayers that believ­ers say to each oth­er over and over again. A prayer, in prin­ci­ple, is a melody that should appeal to the breath. By dint of apply­ing this slow exer­cise of breath­ing, of calm­ing down, dur­ing the day, when you work, when you take the bus, you are sur­prised to return to the air that enters you and comes out almost imme­di­ate­ly. You are alive, in spite of every­thing that might weigh you down. 

Tama­ra once told me (she told me through the app, it’s just fun to make it a per­son­al con­ver­sa­tion) that we used to, for sur­vival rea­sons that were ingrained in us, judge, sep­a­rate the wheat from the chaff, good from bad, get irri­tat­ed because the sub­way is still crowd­ed, or a col­league told us some­thing bad. We think a lot about what’s com­ing when it’s often just a mat­ter of suppositions. 

These mul­ti­ple cal­cu­la­tions and mea­sure­ments that the mind loves to think about are valid in them­selves. How­ev­er, if we breathe deeply into them, we can observe them for what they are, pit­falls, joys, the past, the pos­si­ble future. They are rarely part of our present, which con­sists of being what we are, the time we are.

No mat­ter if you get the very expen­sive Calm appli­ca­tion (that’s for the bour­geois, that), noth­ing pre­vents you from breath­ing, from observ­ing, for exam­ple, through the win­dow, that two drops of water, one on the upper thread, and the oth­er on the low­er thread of a clothes­line, seem to run togeth­er towards an unknown des­ti­na­tion. Noth­ing pre­vents you from breath­ing and observ­ing your unfin­ished apart­ment and think­ing, with­out judg­ing any­thing, that it is you who built it and that what remains to be done is what remains to be done.

When you open the door of the build­ing where you work, noth­ing pre­vents you from breath­ing as reg­u­lar­ly as you can, see­ing you come in, hear­ing you say hel­lo to peo­ple, see­ing you con­cen­trate on all those things that should or should not be able to accom­plish you.

Maybe this will give you a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the state of your exis­tence. And if you are suf­fer­ing a great pain, if you are at the point of death or at the end of a hap­pi­ness for two, or if you are wel­com­ing a child instead, get a prize, if you are enjoy­ing in the mys­te­ri­ous body of love, I sug­gest that you do not for­get to breathe, and I say this in all humil­i­ty, because I am not liv­ing this dra­ma or these joys that are yours. Let us linger until we can no longer hold our breath and let it go like every­thing else.

The only pur­pose of liv­ing is to be ful­filled in what has been offered to us. Trans­lat­ed with (free version)