“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” -Anonymous
Ever wonder what is the purpose of life? Yes? ..Hmm!!!
No?? If not yet, still I will suggest you to read this article for once, as it won’t steal much time, and you are going to encounter it at some point in your life.
If you have already arrived to this paradoxical situation,”What is the purpose of life?”, then you are probably one of the three kinds of people.
First kind; the carefree one! You have always lived your life in the present moment with a smile. You kept crossing visible milestones smoothly, enjoyed the instant achievements, and moved on leaving behind, the sudden clashes you encountered, at that same point, only to never look back. You never really gave a thought about future decades. And thus lead an anxiety free, happy life, up to a certain point where you needed to pay the price for having it easier at beginning.
Or you may belong to the second kind who had planned every second, and put all the efforts sacrificing a lot of things, focusing on only that one goal which you have chosen early in your life and which is the reason you thought you are living for. You have been climbing the success ladder and enjoying achievements at every step. And just then that storm pushed you down and sailed you away from you path, dropping you on an entirely new planet where you struggled for your identity and survival.
Or the third type, who wished and reached to the highs you have marked for yourself. But as sky is the limit you are wandering through this universe looking for some gravity to land.
All of you have started with different approaches, traveled through the diverse paths, and caught in to the feeling of being lost. With no definite direction to move further, you are now questioning your existence. You are stuck in this feeling of being drifted at this point which you did not ask for. It can be anything from your love life or career or finance or health.
This question why am I doing, what I am doing right now, takes a person on the journey, in the search of a purpose which provides him an identity and direction to move on. During this pursuit, one explores the different religions philosophies, self-help books, motivational speeches and the activities which help him to come out of this despair. Some takes help of fasts, prayers etc. some goes for visualization, or personal growth programs, some goes wild and distract themselves with pursuing activities which gives them pleasure. Out of all the means every person chooses method, which he finds most convincing; which goes straight into his heart.
While all of these surely help people to gather themselves, the purpose of life still remains a puzzle. There are many versions of it. Purpose of life is to fetch happiness, to serve others, to get a balanced life, to realize your dreams, to live in the present moment, to lead a carefree life, to make the world a better place and so on….
One day I come across a “different -but not different” version which knocked me. It looked different, but finally connected all the dots, and provided a clear picture of purpose of life, which remains the same, in each version I mentioned above.
“Purpose of life is to Breathe! Deep… Slow… relaxed… Stay truly alive in the very moment through breathing. ”
At first glance, it sounds impossible and impractical statement. It may make an impression that a person needs to meditate all the time.
But wait! Before you think it’s a hypothetical statement which just sounds great but do not meant to follow, let me explain how does it make sense.
What is life? Life is the journey between Birth and death of a living being. And Birth and death are bounded by “Breath”. Life ends when breathing ends.
During this time-from birth to death; we keep breathing while performing other activities. We breathe even when we are asleep.
Breathing is directly associated with our activities and emotions. Each activity and emotion has a distinct pattern of breath. Accordingly our breath changes its depth and frequency. For example, if while sitting we breathe normally, while running fast we gasps. Also, when happy we breathe slowly and fully; while our breaths are rapid and shallow, in the state of fear and anxiety.
Breathing pattern is a combined result of activity plus state of mind (emotion). If we are sitting but anxious our breaths will be rapid and shallow. Also if we running fast but our mind are calm we will still be out of our breaths.
Ideal breaths are considered to be slow, full and relaxed. Because this is the breathing pattern, which is associated with feeling, calm, composed, peaceful and satisfied.
To stay alive we perform a number of activities. We eat, sleep, dance, study, work, watch movies etc. All our activities are intended to survive. We eat to satisfy hunger, we sleep to relax. We work to earn, we invest to have a safe future etc.
So, all of these are our needs for living.
Now what do we eat, how do we earn and where do we invest are all our choices. These choices are based upon the thoughts. Human brain is gifted (or cursed I am not sure )with analytical thinking. And because of these thinking we have reached to a superior level of living standards than other species. That is why our needs are also much more than other species. Namely, air, water, food, shelter, security, stability, belonging, being loved, self-esteem, recognition, self-actualization (need of development and creativity).
Any of your life’s goals, weather chosen or forced by nature; is meant to full-fill one of these needs of human survival, that is ultimately for breathing, keeping ourselves alive.
You all are breathing, that means your journey/life is not yet over and its only purpose is to breathe now, until it ends itself.
You get life’s purpose, confused with you work, you job, your relations, your deed for the betterment of the planet etc…. But those are you needs for living. You are not living for any of these. You are living to continue your life, to continue your breaths.
Your journey/life is not going to end after you achieve a certain goal like getting a particular job or, marrying someone or coming out of a financial crisis. Even if you don’t achieve any of them you are required to find out some other means which can full fill the same need ,which the incomplete goals were expected to serve.
The choice of any goal is made upon the present situations, your personality traits, and your experiences. Our thoughts are combined result of past experiences, present situations/needs, and our inherited abilities from our parents. So we predict our future on this basis, choose our goal and work towards it at present. And we do work a lot!!!
Let us revise quickly: your needs decide your goals; and your thoughts make choices of the paths to achieve those goals. And these choices are the basis of activities we perform and emotions we generate.
When we achieve something we feel satisfied. For a short time we feel like, “I don’t want anything else in life, I have everything”.
In this exact emotion, breathing pattern becomes ideal. We feel satisfied, peaceful, and calm. And our breaths are slow, deep and relaxed.
And this is the exact reason, people start to believe, the goal which is going to get them to this feeling of satisfaction; is their life’s purpose.We want to reach to that feeling of being contented. And this is the same reason we feel lost if for any reason we cann’t achieve it.
The people who keep living their life happily up to a certain limit, already have this satisfaction. Then one fine day they encounter a crisis for one of the needs, which put a giant goal in front of them, and as they were not prepare earlier, they find is hard to achieve it. They do not want to come out of that comforting feeling of being contented, but at that moment they are already out. And now they need to take a new and long hard route to fetch it again.
The people, who achieved what they have decided, again come out of this temporary satisfying feeling after a time period and later they can sometimes feel null.
Our theory says, we can feel the same way (contended) during our journey/life, most of the time, if our breathing is generally deep and relaxed. We don’t need to wait for accomplishments and appreciation.
This can be achieved by enjoying the task you are doing right now, at the very moment. By having focus on what you are doing in the present moment, without really caring about the result or anything else. Human body is so designed that, it breathes deeper and peacefully, when the mind is fully focused. It gets aligned with the body and apparently the person gets fully involves in the activity he is performing. This feeling is same as what one would feel after a favorable result.
Of course knowing the outcomes of any goal brings the excitement and motivation to work for it. But this excitement also brings insecurity and anxiety about failures. Any goal is just the flag at some future point, which we chose to fetch, based on our thoughts. It gives us direction to move on. We cannot be sure how we are going to feel after reaching there.
So working towards a goal with a constant desire of having it or worrying about the failure doesn’t matter at all.
Apart from the above feelings of desire and insecurity, we encounter real life problems which are hurdle of our journey towards the goals, and distract us from our being focused. And we need to solve them again for the same purpose to get focused, to breathe fully.
All the people who have achieved great things in life, whom we find successful, have grasped the art of focusing on each moment and getting detached temporarily while working on something. That’s only how they could reach to really higher goals.
It resembles with all the philosophies we learnt about life. Nishkaam Karma, Art of visualization, etc. This is why I called it “different -but not different version” at first.
They all say, the person should keep a target, be positive about it, throw the negativity (fear, anger, jealous, anxiety) out of the mind, so that the clean mind can focus on the activity, and the person can breathe deeply and in relaxation.
This is the purpose of life.
Weather without knowing or knowing, we all have been serving it already. And hence I called it a “Paradoxical situation” in the very beginning. But this awareness certainly makes your journey easier.
To achieve it, they have their methods, mediation, philosophies, counselling, visualization and other traditions. All the paths fetch the same goal; that is bringing your breaths in to relaxation.
Success of life cannot be measured by achievements in the areas we have divided our lives into. Like more money, perfect body, perfect relations, great art works, or any other victories.
Success of life will be measured in how many times during the journey you were feeling happy, satisfied, peaceful; no matter what circumstances you were in. Remember we cannot choose to end our journey/life. We can only choose to make it better from what it is right now, with the help of changing our thoughts and eventually changing the emotions and so the breathing patterns.
So, next time you feel low, go out of your breaths, catch each of them, pamper them, and let them blossom. They are going to increase your score in the report card of your life.
My friend!!! Your success is going to be measured in how many deep, relaxed breathes you have taken during all your life.
Catch You Breath !!!