Peak 141: I am breathing through circumstance – like water lapping against the cliff face

I learnt this much yesterday: you can not ‘channel love outwards’ when in a state of ‘worry, anticipation or regret’ or ‘W.A.R.’ – the ego state. This ego-as-W.A.R. idea is a concept of Matt Kahn’s, in his book Everything is Here to Help You.   He suggests, the opposite of the WAR state is R.A.W.: Respecting, Acknowledgement and Welcoming. Can I shift into R.A.W.?

[One  thing I did notice yesterday was that, while seeking to keep open to the loving state and ‘channelling love outwards’, I bumped into an old friend (Janet) and her son – miles away from where either of us live. I bump into this friend every 3 years or so, in one way or another – and we are of support to each other on life’s journey. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.]

So, can I shift into R.A.W.?

Matt Kahn suggests breath is a route into R.A.W.:

‘THE POWER OF THE BREATH: Instead of trying to respect, acknowledge, and welcome our experiences as a consecutive process, what if there were a way to cultivate the qualities of RAW all at once? This is possible by recognizing one of the soul’s most powerful tools of transformation. It is the power of the breath. When we choose to breathe through circumstance, instead of arguing about it, we are respecting, acknowledging, and welcoming the evolutionary benefits of an encounter all at once. Since arguments are outward expressions of shallow breathing, our willingness to meet internal emotional chaos with the sustenance of conscious breath allows the soul to expand. (Everything is Here to Help You, Matt Kahn, page 50)

Ah, the old topic of breath. When/how really to absorb this knowledge?

Experience is the proof that it works. Note ‘Circumstance Arising’ and then ‘Breathe Through It’ – 1000 times. After that, you will need no more persuasion. Look at the quote again: ‘the sustenance of conscious breath allows the soul to expand.’ What do you make of that? 

Well the offer of soul expansion is very welcome indeed, thank you.

Even though it means meeting ‘internal emotional chaos’ head on with that conscious breath? 

It’s that old ‘feeling-dodging’ topic again, isn’t it?

It is. It’s really good that you are working with this.

Let’s read.

-78- Nothing under heaven is softer or more yielding than water. Yet it has no equal for attacking things that are hard and stiff. Nothing can withstand it. Everyone knows that the yielding overcomes the stiff, and the soft overcomes the hard. Yet no one applies this knowledge. Therefore, an Old One said: Only a person who has accepted the country’s dirt is a leader worthy to offer sacrifice at its shrines of earth and grain. Only a person who takes up the country’s burdens deserves to be a leader among those who dwell under heaven. Straightforward words seem crooked. (The Tao Te Ching 78)


My goodness, what better way of summing up the power of the (soft, supple) breath to unravel our (hard, rigid) ego state, than this brief chapter on water? Breath is indeed like water – profoundly yielding yet able to bring down entire cliff faces. In the following Matt Kahn quote, imagine the ‘internal emotional chaos’ is the cliff face, and the sustained ‘conscious breath’ is the water – the collapse of cliff face marks the ego’s unravelling and the soul’s expansion:

“our willingness to meet internal emotional chaos with the sustenance of conscious breath allows the soul to expand”

You are always discomforted by working with the breath – and by now hopefully it is clear why that is! Be compassionate with yourself. Acknowledge that to follow the breath is really not a form of immediate relaxation, but rather a way of consciously purging difficult, uncomfortable feelings -like having dentistry without analgesics. And… it’s the most effective way of purging old energy patterns, old beliefs, old traumas that we have! 

Gotta feel it to heal it!

Yeah! That’s the ticket. Harnessing the power of the breath to do the dirty work is a brilliant approach. What’s best about it is that you can occupy yourself 24/7 with this work. There are no special places to go, no professionals to pay. It’s freely available, and fully in your own control. How about that? 

I just need to bring in the self-compassion alongside the practice, so that I can hold myself through emotions arising…

And put yourself in the best possible context too. You’ve been reading about using light for rewiring the brain [The Brain’s Way of Healing, Norman Doidge] . On that note, remember that now, at virtually the shortest day of the year, you will attain ease by maximising your body’s exposure to light during the day. 

So it shouldn’t just be ‘painful’.

Exactly. As you get better at this, it won’t feel painful at all to purge old energy patterns via breathwork. It will feel more like…


Yes. …Passing wind. A relief. 

Ok, so it’s back to breathwork again.

Until it becomes your everyday, every hour, every moment conscious practice. 

Ok. I hear you. Thank you.

I am breathing through circumstance – like water lapping against the cliff face