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Every Breath You Take

Who doesn't love this song?!

It makes me sway like Ray Charles. The words are etched in my mind. Sting's soothing voice instantly puts me in a calm mood and I walk away humming it the rest of the day. A friend reminded me of this song when she said, "According to Ayurveda you are born with a fixed number of breaths, so breathe slowly to live longer."

Say what?!

I am always rushing, packing in a million things every hour. Doing more than I set out to do fuels me. That means I am constantly breathing fast and often panting. Oh dear god, I will run out of breaths prematurely.


Ayurveda, breaths, and the Police all intersected quickly after that realization.

Ayurveda is an ancient form of medicine based on herbal therapy. It promotes healthy eating and detoxing the body and mind while relying on natural remedies to cure ailments. Ayurveda originated in ancient India and although it is considered alternative now, it was quite the rage before modern medicine.

Ayurveda is based on Sushruta Samhita, a compendium that captures the teachings of Dhanvantari, the Hindu god of Ayurveda. The Samhita's principles were handed down from the divine to the first physicians and then passed on through oral and written traditions. In recent years, Ayurveda has had a resurgence in the west when modern medicine fails to deal with chronic illnesses effectively.

Despite Ayurveda's popularity in India, I am a true-blue allopathy groupie - a granddaughter, daughter, sister, mother and aunt of doctors trained in western medicine. I can't abandon my gene pool, but I am happy to include Ayurveda where it makes sense, especially when it comes to breathing.

Done in the correct way, breathing is integral to Ayurveda and yoga. Our breaths oxygenate blood and allow our brains to control "prana", the vital energy that fuels our body and mind. This is the reason for inhaling through you nose and exhaling through your mouth purposefully during yoga. I love that my Apple Watch reminds me to "Take a Moment" to breathe slowly several times a day.

Now to the number of breaths.

Hinduism says that our lives are preordained based on prior karma. We can run but we cannot hide from our destiny. This does not mean we get to sit around until we run out of breaths or we can throw our hands in the air and resign to whatever karma dishes. The concept of dharma is the flip side of karma. It dictates that we need to do our life's work with diligence and without expectations. Dharma leads to the accumulation of good karma so we don't devolve into a cockroach in our next life.

It's simple math.

The longer we have in the current existence, the more time we have to collect brownie points toward the ultimate goal of paying off our cosmic debt.

Back to the Police song.

"Every breath you take

And every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I'll be watching you..."

Instead of representing the agony of lost love, these words now tie ancient thoughts with modern hurriedness in a meaningful manner for me. The song will remind me to center with every breath, to take time to do the right things in the right way and to live a long and healthy life.

Inhale. Exhale. Slowly. Repeat.

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