Breathing is one of those things in life that we seem to ignore and forget its essence. We breathe because we are alive. Who would have thought that breathing can give us different experiences. According to Win Wenger (1999), one can use breathing to predispose one’s self and system towards creativity, well-being, calming and comforting one’s self under stressful situations, taking in beauty, understanding complexity, and so on. Learning how to properly breathe is not only essential to our body and well-being, in a deeper sense, proper breathing is a pathway to nurturing one’s soul.
Most days I forget how to breathe. I even think that a lot of times I just stop breathing without noticing. However, for some odd reason when I read the word breathe, I instantaneously begin breathing in and out. Reading the word “breathe” immediately reminds my mind and body to recognize how I am breathing and how much I need to take a deep breath. As always, I feel good each time I take a deep breath and let go of it. It almost feel like taking out all the negative energy in my body while breathing in the good energy back inside me.
Breathing, for me, symbolizes life. I breathe, therefore I am alive. In my life right now, I believe that I need a lot of breathing. I need to breathe so I can think clearly. I need to breathe so I can appreciate all that is beautiful around me. I need to breathe so I can love more. I need to breathe to imagine. I need to breathe so I can create freely. I need to breathe to be in the present, not in the past or in the far future. The strongest need of my inner self is for me to live in the present — not to be anxious about the future or regret about the past.
What I breathe in is what I breathe out. When I take joy in my life then I am able to bring happiness to others. Learning to accept my self for who I truly am allows me to receive others as they are and not who I expect them to be. Loving my self genuinely, I am able to love others unconditionally. Forgiving those who have wronged me frees my heart from hate and disgust. The more I think of all my life’s blessings, the more I am grateful for everything and everyone around me. What I bring in to my life, mind, body, heart and soul, are the things that I am capable of sharing to others. As the saying goes, “we cannot give what we do not have”. I can give what I allow myself to have and receive. If I keep breathing in more good energy , then I can breathe out more positive energy than solely the negative energy my mind, body and soul wants out. I have to remind myself of this constantly. Most of the time I feel like I never breath in and just kept breathing out, to the point that I have exhausted all the good energy in me while not noticing that I have been sharing more negative than positive energies to others. I have dedicated my mind and body to so many things without even considering how much I have been exhausting all my energies into plenty non-essential things in life. I have neglected my inner needs, the needs of my soul. I made my life seem so busy that I forget to ask myself if I am still breathing — breathing life.
The “Drawing Breath” activity suggested by Malchiodi is an eye-opener for me most especially when she stated that “as children, we breathe fully, deeply, and freely; as adults, we often lose this simple skill because of stress and other factors…” (p.135). I believe in the power of arts and how creative expression will allow me to learn once more how to breathe fully, deeply, and freely for any type of creative expression is like a chance for meditation — a time for contemplation and connecting to my inner Self. As Malchiodi said, “art is a way of knowing your feelings on a deeper level; acknowledging, discharging, and reworking them; and seeing them in perspective. At the same time, the creative process can help you shift away from emotional stress in your life and awaken to experiences other than suffering. Art has a power to pull us out of disappointment, confusion, or sadness.” (p. 148). What we do for our soul, we do for our mind and body. And as I go through the activities for this class, I am beginning to understand and recognize the role of creative expression in my life and what it can bring me. All art modalities, for me, are inner and outward expressions. They are external expressions of our inner needs, therefore allowing ourselves to expresses our inner selves that we can’t fully express in words but we can freely do through action, movement, and doing. Arts are like the air we breathe. We accept arts in our lives, just like breathing in air to nourish our mind and body, to help us express and respond to the needs of our inner Self and soul. What we share out of creative expressions, what we breathe out, is more than just works of art and creative products, more importantly, we share its benefits to the needs of our mind, body, and soul. Lastly, taking in more positive energies for our mind, body and soul through creative expression, we are more capable of sharing positive energies to others as well — that what we do to ourselves, we also do to others.
Malchiodi, C. A. (2002). The Soul’s Palette: Drawing on Art’s Transformative Powers for Health and Well-being. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications Inc.
Wenger, W. (1999). Breathing as a Way of Life, Part 1. Retrieved from: http://www.winwenger.com/part28.htm