Notes on Breathing

By Linda Buckley Many times indigenous languages give us another way of thinking about meaning. The Hawai'ian word for breath is ha. I have often wondered how aloha could mean hello, good-bye, and I love you, but literally, it means "I give you my breath." It is an offering of my life force. What a powerful way to greet someone! Here is my breath, here is the very essence of my self.

The word for family is 'ohana, meaning those who breathe together. Perhaps like the Hawai'ians, we could breathe together as families. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we have a breathing room or a breathing corner in our homes. It would be a place for us to catch our breath and recharge our batteries. A breathing room can be an eddy in the river of our lives-a place to simply be.

Many English words come from the Latin spirare, "to breathe." At its roots, inspire means "to breathe into." Inspiration stimulates the mind or emotions to a higher level. In our breathing rooms, we might receive such inspiration. The word conspire comes from the Latin com spirare, "to breathe together." Conspiracy refers to a plan by a group intent on a bold purpose. A mindfulness conspiracy could be a bold attempt to live together as fanlilies in a conscious and attentive way with purpose, meaning, and direction.

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Linda Buckley, Source of Clear Seeing, is the Director of The Mindfulness Center of Southeast Alaska in Juneau. She brings mindfulness practice into the public schools and leads families in mindfulness activities through music, stories, drawing, and movement. For information on family practice or mindfulness curriculum packets, contact Linda at jsldb@uas.alaska.edu.

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