What’s the big deal about breathing anyway?

I think breathing is important. Seems like a pretty obvious statement, right? But even though we do it every day, for hours at a time, very few of us actually pay attention to our breathing. Two years ago, I met a holy man from the Himalayas that lives in a humble shack wearing nothing but two pieces of cotton cloth through the cold winters in the mountains. He told me that we enter this life with a certain number of breaths available to us. Our last breath is already counted. So that means that we have to engage in life-events that keep our breathing slow and steady, to preserve our breath. Well, I didn’t know if I agreed with the science behind the theory, but here was a wise mind with generations of mystical knowledge, so I probed him further. I asked him if we should avoid aerobic exercise then, since it makes us breathe fast and heavy. (Finally, the excuse I had been looking for to avoid the gym!) He smiled at me, and said that aerobic exercise increases our lung capacity, so when we exercise, we are taking in more oxygen into our bodies, which is good for the health of the body. He explained that the reason meditation is so popular with spiritual seekers is that on some level, they understand that the breath is linked to their spirituality, and if they can learn to regulate their breathing, their lives begin to change. Their emotional bodies become more stable, their physical bodies become healthier, and their energy bodies vibrate at a higher frequency. Since I met the man from the mountain, I have been paying attention to my breath. Not every breath, but every once in a while throughout the day, I will stop and just notice my breathing. And who knows, maybe when my last breath comes, I will be paying attention.