The practice of breathing is the most basic of human functions, vital as is to existence itself. Something we do without thinking, continuously, awake, or asleep, a response chiseled into our psyche by that same urgency for life that drew the very first gasp upon our sudden and frenetic expulsion from our mother’s womb.
Throughout human development the connections between control of breathing and various paths to psychic development, religious practice, self-control, explosive or somnambulistic activity, have been researched and practiced. Strangely, and perhaps quite singularly, I have paid little to no attention to the psychological, the emotional effects of breathing, the way the simple expansion and contraction of the lungs creates highly variable moods, pressure induced feelings within the body physical and temperamental.
My sudden attention to this phenomenon happened quite by chance, as I absentmindedly utterly exhaled whilst frowning rather macabrely. The feeling of an emptiness matching my expression was overwhelming. The connection betwixt action and emotion having been made, ‘twas time to experiment with this new found parallel. The more obvious tests were carried out in fast order, and yes lung expansion did result in a return to a feeling of wellbeing, presumably echoing the abundance of life providing oxygen. The premise having been somewhat proven I naturally, I am if nothing more a good hound once a scent is discerned, dedicated some time to thought and supposition around the subject.
I always find that language is ever a good keystone to the mysteries of both science and nature, our ancestors have after all been happily cohabitating with both for eons and necessarily the spoken word has developed in concert. Undeniably, amongst the first two recognizable sounds humanity expressed must have been the intake and exhalation of air, no doubt in some contrived way resulting in more specific terms for in and out, empty and full, expansion and contraction. A simple necessary function of life providing three of languages ‘opposites’, the base building blocks, like yes and no, of communication.
Having successfully moved from a simple reflexing action to the beginnings of a basic form of intercommunication, a short half sentence but in reality probably many a thousand year, it makes sense to investigate, interpret, elucidate, even insinuate, what this automatic muscular spasm eventually contrived, constructed, manufactured, in our now complex, concise, yet beautifully prosaic tongue.
I am full of energy today; I am out of breath; knocked the wind right out of my sails; blowing my own trumpet; full of hot air; till my very last breath; take a deep breath; blow out the cobwebs; hold your breath; don’t hold your breath. The expressions that originate, generate from the simple activity of breathing are unsurprisingly only matched in number by those relating to the circulatory system, the heart, the blood.
That our voice, communication, should derive so much of import, richness, variation, from but base random activity is hardly surprising, for without respiration, circulation there is no language, there is no humanity, no life.