September 4, 2020
I've been experimenting with different breathing exercises for much of this year. Like meditation, my breathing practice has proven to be an invaluable part of my life. There's a fair amount of science-backed evidence suggesting long-term benefits of breathwork. But the immediate, experiential effects alone have benefited me greatly in my day-to-day. Within only the first minute of isolated breathing, I feel significantly calmer and more focused, my mood consistently elevates, and I regularly feel some degree of euphoria.
One thing that used to plague me in this long life was the feeling that nothing was ever happening, or that significant or otherwise meaningful things happened so rarely that life was largely drudgery. My thinking used to often go something like this: We need to earn money to maintain our bodies and relationships. And in our little breaks from earning that money, we are free to do little more than scramble to maintain those bodies and relationships. Supermarkets. Gyms. Restaurants. Apartments. Holidays. Bathrooms. Beds. Offices. Emails and private messages. Posts and infantile likes. We inhabit them and they us, as the days pass and gather into years, and the years pass and gather into decades, and we keep waiting for something big to happen, and occasionally it does, but usually it doesn't, and then we die. And if we're lucky, we might get a glimpse before death of just how beautiful and active all the little atoms of our long drudgery really were, and in fact still are, even/especially as we approach our descent.
Breathwork—along with meditation, yoga, and any other effective mindfulness practice—allows us those glimpses now. A few of them each day. And hopefully more and more of them as time goes on. And by learning how to breathe or be otherwise mindful, it's been my experience that it becomes impossible to ignore the vast apparatus always at work in all things, including us. There are intricate wonders happening in each of us every day and night, all day and night. And we get to influence many of them, via things as fundamental as how we breathe or eat, or don't, or move our bodies and minds, or don't. And while it's inevitable that most of us will lose sight of that much of the time, we do have the ability to lose sight of it less. Namely, by working to keep our awareness kindled and burning bright.
Brian Leli, September 2020
Breathe and Flow, August 2020
Wim Hof, November 2019
P.S. There are now three prints and one coffee mug (each available in several different sizes) in the Think List Shop. I have no interest in, and am very much opposed to, turning these letters into marketing emails. But I might encourage you to check the shop out from time to time, whenever it’s relevant to what I've written. This is one of those times. Thanks.