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    The Space Between Breaths

    By Jamie Leno Zimron–

    Have you ever noticed that life is really one big breath? The first thing that happens when we’re born is an inhale, and our last act is an exhale. At birth, the lungs have to start working. Once the umbilical cord is cut, the new little arrival starts taking in oxygen on its own. At death, we’re waiting for the last breath, the final exhale and then “s-he’s gone.”

    It’s really then no exaggeration to say that breath is life. Breath carries this mysterious something that animates us. In China it’s called chi, in Japan ki, and in India prana/kundalini/shakti. We don’t really have a word for it in the West, besides life-energy or life-force. While intangible, it is very real, and it is what fuels all of our faculties and every living thing on the planet. Trees breathe, plants breathe, and the earth and atmosphere breathe. Whenever I ask my 97-year-old father about the secret to his longevity, he loves to laugh and say, “I just keep breathing!”  

    When we’re stressed, the heart races and we hold our breath, or start panting from rapid, shallow, upper-chest breathing. Belly breathing provides the first and quickest way to shift out of stress. Since breath is literally so vital, breathing practices are the foundation of meditation, yoga, and the martial arts. Even without ever hearing of, or trying, these things, we all know and advise, “Take a breath,” in order to calm down under pressure, clear the mind, settle emotionally, or simply to relax and chillax.

    Here’s a simple, yet super-powerful, breathing exercise that can accomplish all of that in just a few minutes. It can even lead you into the field of ecstasy and enlightenment. I call it The Space Between Breaths. It doesn’t require a teacher, or a lot of time, or any money, yet the effects are immediate and profound. I hope you’ll give it a try!

    Find a place to sit comfortably, preferably but not necessarily, quiet (i.e., you can do this anywhere, anytime). You can sit in a chair or on the floor, or even lie down.

    Now, gently close your eyes, so you can focus inwardly on your breathing. Let your hands rest on your belly. Take a deep inhale through your nose, feeling your belly rise as air enters your body. Then pause at the top of your inhale, before you exhale.

    Notice that there is a space there. Put your focus on this space and rest in it. Nothing is happening in that space, not even an inhale or an exhale. There isn’t anything to do; not even breathe. Just hang out and enjoy simply being in that space, until an exhale naturally wants to happen. Then breathe out effortlessly through your mouth, feeling your belly flatten out as air leaves your body.

    Notice that there is a space at the bottom of your exhale. Focus and hang out there. Rest and enjoy, where nothing is happening and there’s nothing to do. Without any effort or worry, an inhale will eventually come. Repeat this cycle, just enjoying how good you’re beginning to feel. Absolutely no doing, just pure being. This is The Space Between Breaths.

    Stop each day for a few moments or minutes and give yourself the gift of just breathing and hanging out in this most amazing space. It is a quick and clean de-stressor, right when you need it. It will calm your nervous system, and restore a sense of peace and well-being. I haven’t read the studies, but neuroscientists are measuring how conscious breathing changes stress biochemistry, slowing down cortisol production and upping serotonin and oxytocin levels. 

    Space-in-between is what gives everything needed pause and meaning. Of all the keys on the keyboard, it’s the space key we use most. Without it, letters, words and sentences would all run together. Our minds couldn’t process what’s written, and we’d be lost. If you’ve ever built a website or worked with a web designer, you know that maintaining white space is crucial. Clutter is killer to order as well as creativity, just as going non-stop eventually diminishes our returns and can wipe us out.

    The Space Between Breaths can quickly lead you into profound new awareness. It is a very lovely place, which we rarely, if ever, notice or visit. It is actually the Ground of All Being, from which everything arises and falls—every breath, thought, action, behavior, movement and event. You may find yourself starting to live more and more in that special space, rather than getting so caught up in the usual din of daily life. You notice thoughts and emotions passing through, simply coming and going, and you’re able to maintain your ground, center and balance more easily.

    This empty, yet very rich, Space Between Breaths has always been there, is always present, and will always just be. We recognize it as the place where we always are, and that is always gently and peacefully holding us. Who knows? It just might be where we go, or what we dissolve into, upon our final exhale!

    Jamie Leno Zimron is a Business Development Consultant with iMap Strategic Solutions and is the Co-Founder of Every BusinessWoman Golf. She is also an LPGA Pro, Aikido 5th Degree Black Belt, and Corporate Speaker-Trainer. Please check out her website: http://www.thekiaiway.com