When I first heard these words, they immediately resonated with me on a deep level.
They were some of the first words I heard spoken by respected Kundalini yoga teacher, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, a student of the honorable Yogi Bhajan. It caught me off guard, how profoundly true I found this simple lesson to be… So much so, that’ it’s included in “How to be Happy: Significantly Improve the Quality of Your Life with these Three Simple Lessons.”
I’ve spent countless days meditating on their meaning. “The quality of your breath…” An inhalation, an exhalation, and the space between the two. What makes a breath (high) quality?
A quality breath isn’t experienced as something you’re doing, but rather, something that is being done to you.
- A high-quality breath is stable. It’s consistent and reliable in its rhythm and intensity. It occurs naturally. While it recognizes fluctuating conditions, it lives undisturbed.
- A high-quality breath is acknowledged. It is witnessed on a subtle mental plane, as well as experienced intimately on an energetic level.
- A high-quality breath is tranquil. It reassures that all life pervades within. And it reminds us that we permeate throughout all life.
I understand the breath to be a direct aphorism, that everything is temporary. That each moment is fleeting. And in that sweet reminder, I find bliss in the infinite now… (breathe) and now… (breathe) and now…
After meditating on the first half of these wise words, “The quality of your breath, is the quality of your life,” I began to wonder whether or not my understanding of a “quality breath,” directly translates to a “quality life.”
First I’ll clarify that I don’t think it’s necessary, nor helpful, to define what makes a life (in the external sense) quality, however, it is useful to understand what characteristics make up a quality person. Life is after all, subjective to the person experiencing it. So, if we can understand the characteristics, states of mind, tendencies, and so on, which allow an individual to experience a quality life, that is worth pondering.
So, what do you think? Can a “quality life” also be characterized as “stable, acknowledged, and tranquil?” In other words, if a person’s mind and energy is stable, acknowledged, and tranquil, will they experience a quality life?
What virtuous attributes would you apply to a quality breath? Do they directly translate to an experience of a quality life?
My closing thoughts…
Pranayama (the lifeforce energy, which we experience as the breath) is the fuel to my body and the companion to my soul.
Yet, when I say that “pranayama is the fuel to my body”, I understand that the two are not separate at all. My body doesn’t exist independently from my breath. The air living through my lungs, is my body. Furthermore, if my body is my breath, and my breath is the companion to my soul, then my body is also the companion to my soul.
At times my breath, my lifeforce, is filled with vigor, and at other times it’s soothing. But no matter the intensity, I know that whenever I calm my mind, acknowledge my breath, and accept the tranquility that lays within, I experience the infinite – in the now.
Now is all there ever is, and we have our breath to remind us. Let it be quality.