Cool Piece On Breath

This piece was included in today’s newsletter from the Super Wisdom Foundation.  Enjoy:

Breath lives closer to us than anything else. To breathe better is to live better.

Full and healthy breath cycles effortlessly through four phases: inhale / retain / exhale / rest.  The profitable use of inner life information follows the same stages.

Reading, audio and video, classes and discussion are among the methods for inhaling information. Contemplation, experimentation and making lists of your connections, these are practical ways to retain the information for awhile.

Then, unlike conventional worldly information that gets mentally stored, inner life information has one purpose — to cleanse and open. Attempts to store the information lead to competitive comparison, top heaviness and rigid religious structures. This third stage, exhalation, is perhaps best described as an intelligent willingness to not know. Happiness is Beingness, the bubbling spring mentioned above. After all, no isolated self exists that can Know, since true Knowing flows freely without reference to apparent selves and boundaries.

The fourth stage of the cycle, rest, includes simply noticing the silence, and at other times it includes recreation. J. Krishnamurti, for example, surprised people when they heard he loved to read detective novels. Vernon Howard enjoyed reading history for recreation. Gurdjieff relished telling and listening to jokes while taking a Turkish bath.

Personality, when free of neurosis, colors the world with wonderful diversity.

What Spiritual Dis-Ease And Morbid Obesity Have In Common

From a comment to Spiritual Experience vs. Realization (or What’s The Point, Anyway?), over at

If part of what you are saying here is that the main plus of formal spiritual practice is that eventually you give up on it, and then are truly able to surrender, then I have to say, YES, it does seem to happen that way for some people.

It’s the same with dieting. We diet until we don’t need to anymore. This gets much more complicated when it comes into contact with reality, however. A person is morbidly obese, they have a sudden flash that they need to do something about it. They pick up a diet and start working it. Often they persist in the diet until they get to a weight that seems to make them happy, and then they drop the diet and gain back some, or all, or even more of the weight. The happiness fades and they pick up the same diet again, or turn away from it with a sense of betrayal and seek another diet.

The roller coaster continues. The seeker of a thin body continues the search, does the work, drops the diet cause they are “done”, gains back the weight and so on. The long term damaging effects to the seeker’s health that this pattern causes are well documented, and depressing. Still the well documented fact often don’t make much of an impression to the person caught in the yo-yo cycle since their immediate experience is one based on emotion, feelings of desperation, hope, depression, fear, isolation and dread.

Eventually, with a little bit of luck, or perhaps a momentary crack in the cycle brought about by some external circumstance, or internal clarity, a change takes place. The seeker becomes more concerned with making a permanent change to their lifestyle rather than a quick fix. They look to trying to feel and be healthy rather than feeling and being thin. At that point the word dreaded at many a weight loss support group rears it’s maligned head: maintenance.

When stuck in the yo-yo pattern of the thin-body seeker, the word maintenance sounds like just more work. It implies that the pain and discontent we feel while locked into an obese body will never end. It dashes hope of some sunny hereafter where we can finally eat whatever we want, in whatever amounts, and never gain a pound. Just like those lucky few metabolic freaks we know who we both despise and long to be. (Substitute here the person who never seems to be terribly unhappy and inherently free of the existential angst which is the seed affliction of spiritual seeking.)

When we make the shift away from the yo-yo cycle, through whatever means, and turn from thin-body seeker to healthy body path walker (those names need a little work), maintenance becomes not a burden but instead an expression of all the lessons we have digested along the way. We make healthier food choices, and move our bodies in enjoyable ways more often, because that is the person we have become. Maintenace is no longer drudgery, it is instinctual.

We have changed. Somewhere along the way, as we express our new way of being in the world, we come to the realization that we are the same as we were when we started. We were always just ourselves. We just showed up for life in a different manner.