The Gift of Breathing In and Out

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Imagine your nose is blocked, and you can only breathe with your mouth! Something so unnatural, like walking on your hands! Due to the nose septoplasty surgery (where a doctor corrects deviated septum by straightening it and re-positioning it in the middle),  I spent 2 weeks breathing with my mouth only which made me realize how nothing in this world matters more than our breath.

No pain, no gain or the moment of sweet naivety fading away

When the day of a surgery came, I was calm, not thinking of what it could be like. I was actually even looking forward to the general anaesthesia as I had experienced it once and remembered it being fun. Losing conscious totally, feeling a bit drowsy afterwards? Will be cool! I was encouraging myself. Obviously my mind removed all the bad memories of that day as it was several years ago. Anyways, there was no stepping back when lying down on the table, breathing in through my nose for the last time – so, the least I could do was looking at it from a positive perspective, right?

And then the reality hit me. Pain! Welcome! You wanted fun? Here it is! Angry voice (or is it actually that wise voice I was ignoring until now?) appeared in my head. Thankfully, there are pain killers. I was actually pretty glad for all those legal drugs they stuffed me with to make this suffering a bit more bearable. When you are overwhelmed with pain, so severe that there is barely something else you can focus on, you are glad for whatever brings you a slight relief. In that moment, I felt empathy and understanding for all the drug addicts. Yet, at the end, as even the effect of a painkiller faded away, I had to decide to accept the pain counting on its impermanence.

Then, as my nose was swollen, ears, upper lip, teeth and throat hurting, I realized how much everything is connected in our body. Isn’t it like that in our life too? You mess up one part and another one gets affected? Pure domino effect! Yet, what bothered me the most was the inability to breathe through my nose as it was blocked completely. I could breathe only with my mouth which is primarily not meant to do that! You know the feeling when you are forced to do something you don’t really want to but there is no other option? A rebel within me was totally furious but I just had to shut that part of myself down and keep following the instructions with trust and patience. Yes, another nice metaphor for life, what an irony! I thought.

What if this is the last day of my life?

Being frustrated and in pain, it was funny to observe my mind travelling to the moments in my life when I had felt similar but thought I had already forgotten about them. Thanks to this post-surgery time, I recalled a bike trip up north in Ladakh, India remembering myself and my friend reaching Pangong Tso Lake, 4250 metres above the sea level.

It was a cold November day (never go to Ladakh in November, bad idea!), and we felt pretty exhausted after a long ride, yet happy to find the only open guest house where we could get something to eat and warm up our limbs a bit. I had pictured that moment of lying down on a bed and taking a rest numerous times during that day. What I surely had not pictured was catching a high altitude disease that night: remembering myself not being able to catch a breath, breathing through my mouth only, trying to desperately collect some oxygen to survive, even thinking this could possibly be the last day of my life. Luckily, none of that happened, and I started to get better when descending down.

Why would my mind bring me this memory again? I wondered with my mouth open, inhaling and exhaling while lying down on a hospital bed. And then I got it. Total Hallelujah realization! This all happened to remind me of the importance of my own breath! Something I take for granted and don’t even think of so many times during the day, something I am not always aware of. But it is the breath which keeps me alive. It is the breath which calms me down when I feel under a pressure. It is a deep breath in and out bringing freedom to my soul, helping me to feel less stuck. This simple, yet extremely precious gift! How could I forget about it?

We breathe, so we are!

Now, as I could not take a refreshing breath through my nose, I felt jealous of everyone who could. Hey, people! Wake up! I wanted to tell them. You can breathe, can you hear me?! No matter what worries you carry, no matter what duties are waiting for you. None of that matters as much! Because you can breathe! And that is the most precious gift of all.

Breathing, the most miraculous part of being alive, does not only bring oxygen to our body so it can function properly; it has a positive effect on our mental health too when used in a right way. Breathing technique can relax our mind and body, it can release the tension and anxiety. When practising for some time, one can experience bliss, a meditation-like state which is a real journey within. Inhaling new positive energy and letting go of all that does not serve  anymore – exhale by exhale.

My post-surgery time was over, and I could breathe again! With such gratitude and joy like never before! We should indeed appreciate that we can take a deep breath in to refresh ourselves, and appreciate that we can breathe out to make us feel lighter. This only matters. Everything else is just an addition to that. We breathe, so we are. And breathing with a full awareness, using it as a relaxation technique can take us to another level. Just try it yourself, you may actually discover the whole new world. Ready?

Photo credit: Martina Trginová

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