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  • Jesse Irizarry

I Am The Breath

I’m pivoting some in my career. Even with all the uncertainty of life during this global pandemic, I feel pretty confident and strangely calm in my decision to alter the direction and efforts of my professional life.

To be clear, being calm isn’t easy for me. My usual temperament is pretty anxious. I don’t let a lot of people catch on to me but I worry incessantly and second guess everything. A poker face can be learned.

A piece of this focus change will involve more learning and teaching about the breath. Everything about it. How it affects performance but not just in lifting weights. Spreading ideas on how it’s a foundational pillar in creating personal health, focus, precision, relaxation and restoration, and a stillness of mind. That last bit is what first drew me in to study this more intensely. I was more interested in that than how it affected my own strength and conditioning.

The difficulties that I’m facing in business and my professional development because of this pandemic are, if nothing else, and instruction in self-reliance. A reminder of its importance. I’m very aware that my difficulty is mild compared to others which is why I can step back and already see what can be learned.

I had a lot of plans for this year. I was going to take some courses and classes. I had planned to take a writing workshop. Sit in a formal classroom for the first time in over a decade and have someone teach me how to be a better writer. Obviously that didn’t happen and something like that won’t be available for a while.

Being a better writer is a big part of this shift, though. So it’s up to me to learn the skills, practice the craft more, find and read the resources best for me, and awkwardly ask for help from people with more experience. The answers won’t be fed to me as they may have in that class, but this exercise in a more self-supporting path may help me find a more genuine voice to my writing sooner than I would have.

This has been one of a few situations that’s been teaching me, or maybe reminding me, to look for answers, strength, and creativity inside myself. To do the harder, but often more fulfilling and instructive work, of finding and dissecting the materials that would make me better, rather than being fed this from someone else. And I think that if I was fed the information, it would have been a diluted mixture of generalities that might not really have taught me what I needed to know.

Breathing is pretty much the only function that can be done consciously and unconsciously. That amazed me the first time I really thought about it. I knew it but never thought of it.

In my recent mediation practice, I’ve been using guided meditations. In these meditations, I’ve been prompted to notice my breath and see if I’m noticing it from a certain point. Maybe a point behind my closed eyes. Then I’m told to see if I’m looking at the breath as the subject from this point and seeing the breath as an object of attention. But when I locate this, I’m to quickly turn attention on itself.

The point of practicing this is to learn that when you turn the attention on to the subject, the meditator behind your eyes, you see nothing. Yes, it’s strange to read about without experiencing it but it’s something that can and definitely should be practiced.

In these guided meditations, I’m told to rest my mind immediately after I look for the thinker. And then experience the breath again not as something independent of an observer but as something just appearing in consciousness.

The last bit of insight that’s given before I sit in silence is to then notice that I am the breath. I’m not noticing it from a point, it’s just arising in consciousness. Just like sounds, just like feelings. I don’t have to move toward it in my mind, it’s just there. I am there with it.

I have no conclusion to this. That’s very much the point. There is no conclusion.

"He is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if he once saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain.” – Carl Jung,

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