Lead me from the unreal to the real.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from mortality to immortality.
For many Christians, St. Teresa of Calcutta, known as Mother Teresa to most people, made this prayer famous, but it is actually the English translation of an ancient Sanskrit prayer—
Asato ma sad gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityor ma amiritam gamaya
Breathing and falling in love with our breath is falling in love with the real us. We are Spirits with minds and bodies and when we fall in love with our breath, we are falling in love with our core Self, with our true self. We are not falling in love with the unreal physical and mental part of us. According to all religious traditions and all spiritual traditions (that means spiritual tradition of yoga), we are not our minds and not our bodies. We are Spirits with a mind and a body.
The truth is we never die!
All religions believe that. Our true self, our Spirit, goes someplace else according to these religions. We either go to heaven or hell or purgatory (if you are Catholic) or we get reincarnated. The real us lives on forever. We are Infinite.
When we focus on our breath in our nostrils and fall in love with our breath, we are pulled away from the false self. We are pulled away from fear, worry, anger, hurt, and whatever might be going on in our mental world. All religious traditions and cultures have one word that means both “spirit” and “breath.” In Judaism the Hebrew word is “ruach”; in Christianity the Greek word is “pneuma” and the Latin word is “spiritus”; in Taoism the Chinese word is “chi”; in the Vedic traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Yoga the Sanskrit word is “prana”; and in Korean the word is “ki.” They all are translated “breath” or “spirit” or “life force.”
All religious and spiritual traditions connect the breath with our true Self. So, when we fall in love with our breath, we are falling in love with our Spirit, the Life Force, the Life Source within. When we do that we are being led to the real, to light, to immortality. When we focus on all the pain and agony in our lives or the mistakes that we make, we are focusing on the unreal part of ourselves. We are identifying with a confused or deranged mind and not our true self. We need to forgive ourselves for the pain that we inflict on others, for the hurts and anger that we direct toward ourselves, because we have confused our false selves with our true self. We may still have to experience the consequences of our actions, words and thoughts, but we have to know that we are completely loved by the Source of Life, the Breath of Life. In the Christian Tradition this Spirit of Life is called the Holy Spirit. In Yoga, it is called Shakti. In Judaism, it is called the Creator.
We need to pray all the time to be led to the “real”, the “light,” and “immortality.” We begin that journey when we pay attention to the breath in our nostrils. We begin to fall in love with our Spirit, then we live a life filled with “The Spirit.”