Noticing your breath helps you notice your inner light -- you know, the one that (as Cheryl Strayed puts it) goes blink, blink, blink when you're on the right track, when you're aligned with your values and integrity. Using your breath helps you use your voice to speak your truth. And there's no way around it: speaking your truth is hard, and sometimes it's confusing to know which truth is the real truth, because usually a few exist simultaneously.
It's really, really hard to locate and speak your truth, and anyone who has jumped over the cliff doing so will not tell you otherwise. It takes work, because you will find that you will go to speak, the words might get lodged in your throat -- for a day, maybe for forever.
Fear makes speaking truth difficult. It's naturally not enjoyable to hurt other people, or inconvenience them, or make them uncomfortable or rock the boat of what's familiar. It can be downright excruciating. I personally hate it.
That's why it takes practice. And practicing means that sometimes you won't get it quite right. You'll mistake the wrong truth for the right one, you'll hurt somebody along the way, you'll mess up and fall down.
We have to practice tuning into our Witness (as my yoga teacher today so eloquently described it), our inner voice that is full of compassion and withholds judgment, the voice that guides us to clarity.
Elizabeth Gilbert describes it a different way; she says it's
this older part of me, this calm, sedate, affectionate, forgiving, wise soul that watches my comings and goings and my spastic fears and desires and anger and all the stuff that pulls on me and intercepts me before I get dragged too far away from myself. And she just says, very sweetly and with a kind of amusement, do you really want to go through this again? Because if you do, I'll do it with you. But, maybe we don't want to do this again. Maybe we want to actually remember what we learned and do a different thing. That's the central miracle of my entire life, I would say, is meeting that voice. I think that's the highest attainment of my life. And hopefully, that's mine to keep. But, I don't take it for granted. And I know how easy it is to be swept away from that. That's what spiritual practice is for. It's to solidify that channel and to make sure that you get to have it.
The more we hear that voice, and listen to it, the more we can grow. The more we speak our truth, the more we can break out of the silence of our old patterns and habits. The more we use our breath to find our voice with strength and honesty, the lighter we feel. Lightness lets us rise up, so that we can discover transformation, within ourselves and within the world.
But it's hard, and it's endless, and it takes practice.