Breath is sacred. It animates our body, it gives force and power to our words, chants and songs, and it enables us to purify ourselves and our cells. It is powerful. It gives meaning and language, it can carry great wisdom and it can store power or send it outwards.
Breath in some cultures is crucial in soul retrieval. It is how we draw in a missing soul fragment, and how we give it to the person in need of healing. It becomes a powerful, healing tool. In some Siberian cultures it was the only way the soul could be placed back into the body.
In my practice, a missing soul piece is cradled in the hands of the practical animist, and placed into the region of the heart for ‘safe-keeping.’ There it knows that it is safe and protected, while we negotiate our way back to the person in need of healing. Once there, the soul piece is concentrated into the breath, and then ‘blown’ into certain places on the body, including the forehead (or crown of the head), and the heart. It is a special breath that carries the soul. It can be taught, or it can be innate and learned through instinct. Only one of these breaths is needed, and then one more to ‘seal’ it in.
In some cases, we are able to bring back our own spirit while meditating, or while going on a healing journey. We might notice that we breathe easier, or that suddenly we take a deep breath or a long exhale. It is our own soul recognising how to integrate what was missing that becomes found. We breathe it in, and so circulate our spirit back through our body again, and likewise we can breathe out negativity.
It is common in many visualisations to imagine all the negativity of the day, including bodily tension, or mental anxiety, to leave the body on each exhale. This acknowledges the innate power in our breath to rid ourselves of spirit disturbance. Likewise, in many visualisations we ‘inhale’ a purifying and healing light, which also acknowledges the innate power of our breath to heal ourselves. Whether you are a practical animist who believes in soul retrieval or not, our own breathing is a sacred and healing act. At its simplest, focusing on your breath is an act of mindfulness that has been scientifically proven to have many health benefits.
Here is a simple exercise which can be done at any time:
1. Place both your feet on the ground (or lie down keeping your spine straight as possible while remaining comfortable) and close your eyes.
2. Take a long, deep breath. Hold for two to four beats, and then let out this breath in a long and deep exhale. Do this four more times.
3. Now, when you take your next long inhale, imagine a warm, healing energy entering your body. It can be any colour you want it to be. Any colour it needs to be. It infuses your whole body. It helps you notice where your tension and unhappiness lies.
4. With your exhale, imagine this tension and unhappiness flowing out through your breath. It moves into the atmosphere and evaporates.
5. Take these breaths for as many times as you need to, until your tension is gone, or until you have released what you need to.
6. When finished, take a moment to enjoy feeling your body being more relaxed, feel your sacred breath, and then open your eyes knowing that this power is inside of you, all the time, whenever you have need of it.
You can do this exercises every night before you fall asleep, or every morning when you wake up, you can do it whenever you feel like it. In the office toilet (yes, there!), when at a party when you suddenly feel overwhelmed, or when life just gets to you. It is simple. We all know the value of ‘taking a few deep breaths’ when anxious, angry or scared. Likewise, this exercise will take that a little further, and enable us to begin to discover the sacred power of our own healing breath.
This exercise can be particularly beneficial to those who feel they are beginning to ‘lose their way,’ the breath is one of our first anchors back to the spirit, and this exercise is something that can remind us of our beautiful spirit in almost all situations.