Where’s your spirit?

April 13, 2011

As a noun there are no less than 25 different definitions of the word “spirit.”

The definitions range from the philosophical–“the soul regarded as separating from the body at death”–to the theological–“a divine, inspiring, or animating being or influence”–to the fantastical–“a fairy, sprite, or elf.”

It is also interesting to note the many idioms the word “spirit” inhabits: evil spirits, the spirit of reform, a man of broken spirit, good spirits, That’s the spirit!

Let us not forget the old pharmacological use of the word as an idiom for “alcohol”, and appropriately enough, the word can refer to either an angel or a demon.   And the word is also used to denote the Spirit, as in God.

How interesting that one word can have so many meanings and uses!

But where does this powerful, elusive word actually sit with us in our daily practice of mindfulness?  Is the spirit in our mind?  Is it in our heart, or is it the energy that enlivens our heart?

For me, the most telling aspect of the word “spirit” can be seen in its origins.  The modern English word “spirit” derives from the Latin words spīritus, meaning “a breathing, and spīrāre,  “to breathe.”

The origin of the word speaks of its paradoxical and powerful nature–the breath itself is always in flux with the ebb and flow of life, elusive in its constant movement, but at the same time the breath gives us the basic energy and sustenance of life itself.  What is more fundamental, grounding and elemental to existence itself than the breath?

The breath is spirit itself, “a breathing” that introduces all of us into this human, bodily incarnation and a breathing that ushers us out of it…and then into the next.

I invite you to meditate upon this powerful and mysterious unit of existence in your mindfulness practice.

What actually is the spirit?  What actually is each breath we take as it grounds us in the present moment, but also leaves us in the next?

Meditate on how each breath expands the cells of energy in our body, and then leaves them suspended for a moment–only to be inspired or “in-spirited” in the very next moment.

Enjoy your practice, allow your breath to give you spirit, and may you find peace.

Thank you for reading my post…