Breath, Magnified

Learning about breath came upon me early.

I did it in Acting Class when I went to college. I did it with my voice teacher, Joy Mclean Bosfield. I did it when I figured out my rhythms as a swimmer. And heck, I practiced yoga way before Madonna made it trendy in the West, back in the early 90s.

But the person who really got me to understand the power of breath in a different way was Eric Butterworth.

Not a body guy.

Eric Butterworth was one of the giants of spiritual thought in the 20th century. When I found Eric in the 1990s in Manhattan, he had been a Unity minister for over 50 years. By then well into his eighties, Eric and his wife Olga lead sweetly inspirational services every Sunday morning at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Eric’s instruction on breath: On the inhale, say to yourself God is.

On the exhale, say to yourself I am.

So simple. I call this magnified breath my “Eric breath.”

Breathe down deep. Say it quietly. Repeat the words on each breath.

If you’re an agnostic or simply allergic to the word God, no worries. Substitute God with another word that represents a positive universal force for you: Peace, Energy, Love. The words focus my attention on my breath. And because the words are so laden with energy, they magnify my breath. They return me to my place of inner calm.

I tend to be an instant gratification guy. Here’s the beauty of the magnified breath: It shifts my energy. Instantly. Every time.

I do my Eric breaths in the middle of the night, when I cannot fall asleep. I do them in a crowded room, when the social energy feels frenetic. I do them in a meeting when a conversation is getting on my nerves.

A testimonial to the power

Mom cried like a little baby.

Yes, it’s that powerful.

This week, magnify your breath. The opportunities for practice are endless. Notice how the words that accompany your breath shift your energy. Calm you. Focus you. Enjoy!