The supreme Goddess constantly expresses herself as the life-giving flow of breath,
Prana, rising up, and Apana, descending,
By pausing at the two places where they arise, and filling those points with silent awareness,
One abides in the state of inner fullness.
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra v. 24
The flow of breath is the fundamental rhythm of life, connecting you to the world. Like the ocean’s tides, the earth’s seasons, day and night, your life is accompanied by this ceaseless pulsation, a dance of in and out, rising and falling, back and forth. One half cannot exist without the other; they form an inseparable pair. Breath encompasses your entire life. Birth is defined by your first inhalation and death by your last exhalation. Every in breath and out breath contains a reference to the entirety of your life on earth. The in breath expresses your embodiment, being fully your individual self. The out breath is connected to consciousness, to your expansive identity with the universe. Your breath hints at the co-existent paradox of your individual identity and equally as the transcendent consciousness of all. By understanding breath you understand the wholeness of your being.
Breath is one of the essential tools in Yoga. In Hatha Yoga, the breath is a fundamental element for managing the flow of prana through the body. In meditation, breath is key to stilling the mind. In Tantra, breath is the gateway to experiencing the absolute.
Within breath sounds So’ham, the self-repeating mantra. It is not spoken; it is an inner sound within the flow of your breath. You do not repeat it, rather, you become aware of it, you listen to it, and in doing so it teaches you, it opens a door to the deepest consciousness of your being. In Yoga, the breath does not only go in and out; it simultaneously flows up the spine to the top of the crown, and then down again through the core of your body. It connects your heart to the infinite.
The practice of So’ham goes beyond merely bringing your awareness to the in breath and out breath: you also become aware of the momentary space that separates the two flows. The separation may be a split moment, but it fully exists within each and every breath you take and it is integral to the practice of So’ham. Within that pause exists a stillness and in meditation it expands to fill your entire inner awareness: then the stillness becomes infinite awareness, and it envelops, encompasses, and transcends the two breaths. The paradoxes resolve: you enter the place between, where stillness contains movement and movement contains stillness, where ignorance contains knowledge and knowledge contains ignorance, where the world contains spirit and spirit contains the world, where happiness contains sadness and sadness contains happiness.
Practice marriage as you would So’ham. If the flow of breath is the dance of the immanent and transcendent, then your marriage is the dance of two people as God and Goddess, opposite and yet complimentary, a never-ending engagement. It pulses with attraction and repulsion, happiness and sadness, “in sickness and in health, for better and for worse.” Most people spend their entire marriages engrossed with this pulsation, managing their ups and downs, ins and outs. But as in So’ham, become aware of the still space living between the polarity: within your union dwells all the universe’s wisdom, ecstasy, and love. There is no reconciling or managing the opposites: within the full space of your consciousness and love they resolve, effortlessly, self-evidently. Your task is to find the still point that resides within and between the two of you, to cultivate and expand it, and realize your deepest truth. Understand your marriage as a mystical field. Listen to that pregnant love that resides in that sacred space. Expand that space and enter the ecstatic truth that is who you are.