The following is an excerpt from my newest book, Heavily Meditated, on the history and power of the breath. The book is due out in the summer of 2021.
“The breath is the surest way to reclaim your power. Through the breath we find the essence of our true potentiality.”
When fear grips us, the breath is the gateway to reclaim our personal divinity. We can live for days without water, weeks without food, however the breath is our constant companion awaiting us to become allies once again on this journey called life.
The world stood still; at least my world did; I knew quite a few people would agree with me. I had just gotten news that the entire United States of America was about to go into a lockdown to prevent the spread of a virus that I had never even heard of—Covid 19. My business partner informed me that we would have to shut down both of our live comedy theaters and every corporate performance we had booked in the coming months had been cancelled. It seemed hard for me to fathom because I do not plug into the news or media in anyway so when this bombshell was delivered to me it didn’t seem to make sense. We were to shut down for three weeks until the situation was further evaluated. A year later, the crisis was ongoing.
Everything that I had ever work towards vanished in the blink of an eye—my livelihood, my way of life, everyday conveniences—all gone; I was not alone. Almost everyone around the world was faced with similar if not slightly different circumstances. Life as we had known it had changed and things as they were would most likely never return. The existential crisis of our lives had arrived and with it a shared experience that the world had not known since at least World War II.
With nowhere else to turn, I relied on the only thing I knew that could help me navigate the impending days—my breathing practice. I had begun a yoga and meditation practice three years earlier and on the ensuing days I would give thanks for that very practice on a number of occasions. Students and teachers of the breath will often say that if a person is able to harness the breath, they have the capacity to take a seemingly undesirable situation and transmute it into destiny. I had been told this by many great teachers and in this current crisis I was relying on it to be true. It was—destiny unfolded before my eyes in a way that I would have never chosen but the synchronistic way it occurred could be described as nothing less than divine.
I deepened my breathing practice. I rose each day before the sun made its appearance and I dedicated time to strengthening my breathing and yoga practice. When times became challenging (as they often did) I consciously returned to my breath to center myself in the present moment. It was during this time that I learned, “We always know what to do in present moment and even if we don’t, we will figure it out.”
How do I know this? Because we are all still here and sharing this space together. We always know what to do even if we don’t think we do. Our breath is the compass that leads us back to our intuition which, when clear, guides us perfectly through every storm. Our intuition is nature’s way of giving us a radar system. Our breath is the current that powers that very system.
My breathing practiced guided us through the murky waters and led us to a place that we would have never traveled on our own volition. Having been through this experience with several friends and family members I couldn’t help but notice that not everyone fared as well during this time of reckoning. Many people turned to over-indulging in food, alcohol, prescriptive medication, binge-watching television, or any myriad of other distractions that took them further away from the inner truth. It wasn’t always easy to watch. I felt blessed to have access to these ancient practices. I also felt called to share them. It is vital for our times moving forward. We simply will not be able to process all of the information in the coming years without a breathing and meditation practice. This will become like brushing our teeth each morning—non-negotiable.
We will either face the times with grace or we will be devoured by a world that moves much faster than ever before in the history of the world. There is hope. Our breath is our hope and when we master it, we master our destiny.
David Daniel Ahearn