The Distinction Between a Process (for Living) and an Outcome

I once had a voice teacher who asked the students “what prevents the in-breath from entering your body”. After several attempts to find a sophisticated response his answer was quite simple: the out-breath. The philosophy of Effiji Breath is very similar to the process of breathing itself. You breathe in and you breathe out. While they sound like two separate processes, they are interconnected and you are always moving somewhere on the journey between the in and the out. It’s not one or the other. So, too, your attention is moving inside and outside yourself all day long, everyday. Life is a process without a fixed destination except death itself.

The philosophy of Effiji and the practice of Effiji Breath revolves around the journey of breathing in and out. In it, the breather focuses their attention on breathing, allowing whatever to arise during the process; freeing up the life force energy stored within the breath. 

To focus on a perceived final destination is something that humans do as a strategy for dealing with the unresolved pain of the past. We find strength in the idea that we are accomplishing something important by getting somewhere; somewhere where we will finally be at peace and happy. But does this work? I’ve read many autobiographies of successful people who were so driven to achieve their goals and dreams, sharing that getting what they wanted was not the holy grail. In fact, letting go of that dream was a step toward true happiness not happiness itself.

To focus on a perceived final destination is something that humans do as a strategy for dealing with the unresolved pain of the past.

In these extraordinary times, and really for the last several decades, western culture has been slowly identifying a world beyond the physical world where we can improve ourselves. Western psychology is a good example of how examining your perceptions and interpretations directly influence every choice you make. In the last several years, I’ve heard the word “hack” a lot. With technology being more evolved than we are, people look for an advantage in the game of achieving goals. Recent popular personal development focuses a lot on tips and tricks, strategies and hacks, to help you have a better life. They work. I, for one, take a cold shower every morning. But again, if it’s just to compete and get to a goal, where is the lasting fulfillment in it? Taking a cold shower changes my physiology and perhaps makes my mind clearer, but only temporarily. If you can’t live inside all of the ebb and flow of what is incoming and outgoing like breathing itself, then you are stuck doing things to get somewhere and you will never find peace inside yourself. 

Peace comes from acceptance. We suffer and our minds tell us what to do about it. If only the mind was speaking truth. In fact, a life in the mind is about avoiding the past and seeing into the future. The mind focuses on goals, destinations and outcomes. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a million dollars or have 50,000 Instagram followers, it’s just that if you’re doing it to become (finally) happy, you might be disappointed in either getting, or not getting what you wanted. There is no actual joy in the mind…. ever. The only time the mind is peaceful is when it is answering to your heart and spirit.

A person who focuses on the “how” rather than the destination will have a greater ability to catalyze the energy available within each breath, infusing the moment with power.

While life hacks are about making the journey easier and the focus on outcomes are to please the mind, a process is about how you do what you do, nothing else. It’s not dependent on the outside world whether it’s cold water from a shower or the perfect mate. A process is you being your best self regardless of what goes on around you. And yes, that includes pandemics!

If the life force is in everyone’s in-breath then one might wonder why some gain more benefit than others. The answer I believe lies in the quality and concentration of each individual’s process. A person who focuses on the “how” rather than the destination will have a greater ability to catalyze the energy available within each breath, infusing the moment with power. This is not a learn-it-once and you’re done thing. The more you do it the deeper it gets and the more power you feel. 

The two most important tools that you should have in every process are self awareness and acceptance. Self awareness simply means that you put, let’s say, 70 percent of your attention on yourself and 30 percent on the world outside. Self awareness is to know yourself. You need information about yourself before you can make any decision that leads to action. Acceptance is the antidote to resistance. The more we can accept what we feel the more our energy will circulate naturally and correctly. You can’t change the past and you may not be responsible for what others might have done that hurt you, but you can certainly always choose how you are going to live your life. In other words, acceptance includes what happened and how you feel. From there, you take responsibility that it’s your life and see what wants to happen that will lead you to peace and happiness. 

The value of a healthy process is that any outcome will be acceptable to you if you like the way you live. Problems aren’t your enemy, they help you develop your process. Perhaps getting what you want all the time is a hindrance. Problems have a way of bringing you closer to impatience, irritation and anger. Problems open up feelings. By rejecting what happens and what we feel, we miss out on our opportunity to transform the energy of upset and complaint into power and purpose. 

We practice acceptance in the breath because the qi or life force of the universe is in our breath. We have to extract it. If we are resisting, any energy within it remains hidden and unusable. You get the qi through relaxation and awareness. The more you can open up, the more you can get between the molecules, between matter. It is in this space where the energy is most powerful and fluid. Relax, allow and feel. That doesn’t let people abuse you. It means feel what you feel and don’t resist your experience. To learn to do this you need a process. While tips, tricks and hacks can help you cope, a process is there to teach you how to live so that no matter what happens you are always available to receive and grow.

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