I used these photos to illustrate this post because the animals are all engaged in play with obvious breath actions. Felines do it really well. The mama lion is playing with her cubs, the gibbon baby is playing with his father, and two baby snow leopards are rough-housing. Breath is about movement, laughter and play. In can also be about crying, release of stress, and sorrow. Breath is all manner of living and life!
When chanting, experiment with different breath patterns.
- Are you breathing into your diaphragm?
- Your upper chest?
- Your pelvic area?
- Your toes?
- Are you breathing with your mouth?
- Your nose?
- Do you draw the syllables out in one breath?
- Or many?
- Do you chant on the breath in?
- The breath out?
Hazrat Inayat Khan was a Sufi mystic who lived from 1882 until 1927. His mission in life was to bring together or “harmonize” the traditions of East and West through the agency of music. In his book, The Music of Life (Omega Publications, 2005; 206) he discusses why a musical meditation using sacred symbols is so powerful; “Breath runs through all three: body, mind and soul. Seeing from this point of view, one will realize that man has never been separated from God that with every breath man touches God. He is linked with God by the current of breath.”
Below, I re-state Khan’s quote, substituting the spiritual concepts of “humanity” for “man” and “YHVH (Ya-hu-ah)” for “God.” The pronunciation I use for YHVH (Ya-hu-ah) is based on the spiritual knowledge of using prominent power syllables to form the name of divinity. Cross-culturally and throughout the ancient world, names of the divine were created by using power syllables. The pronunciation I use is not correct according to rules of Hebrew grammar. Although there is much argument about the correct pronunciation of YHVH, it is generally agreed that according to Hebrew rules it would be something akin to Yah-weh. This is a good example of how manifest earthly knowledge and spiritual knowledge can appear different and yet both be correct.
Here is my restatement, a divergent translation of his words; Breath runs through all three; body, mind and soul. Seeing from this point of view, one will realize that humanity has never been separated from YHVH (Ya-hu-ah) that with every breath humanity touches YHVH (Ya-hu-ah). Humanity is intertwined with YHVH (Ya-hu-ah) through the current of breath.
A Kabbalist axiom expresses this same concept using different expression:
י ח ו ח“He who can rightly pronounce it, causeth heaven and earth to tremble, for it is the NAME which rusheth through the universe.”
In my book One Gods: The Mystic Pagan’s Guide to the Bible I go deeper into these concepts and discuss more chants. You can help me in getting in this published at my indiegogo link at the side of my home page.
(Quote appears on the title page of The Hebraic Tongue Restored by Fabre d’Olivet, Samuel Weiser, Inc. first printed, 1921, reprinted 1976)