By Małgorzata Piechowicz-Pietruszka
If I were to read only one book in my life, I would choose this one. And I know how bold this statement sounds – I am usually much more restrained when it comes to limiting my reading list. However, this book is absolutely breathtaking and jaw-dropping, or this is how I would normally describe it. But in this case, what the book does is quite the opposite. Because it will not take your breath away. It will literally give it back to you, but slower and deeper. And it will also convince you to close your mouth, at long last.
James Nestor, the author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” is a science journalist who suffered from chronic respiratory problems and decided to go deep into the theme of pulmonology. Not only has he intricately explored the history of cross-cultural, ancient breathing techniques but he also made himself a sort of a guinea pig to check how they correspond with the most cutting-edge research of the ‘lost art’ of breathing.
Throughout the 10 000 breaths (according to the author) that it takes the average reader to read the book, you will become aware of how transformative and restorative slower and deeper breathing is. You will find out about the damage we are doing to ourselves while mouth breathing, and the therapeutic effects of a longer exhale. In other words, if you are suffering from asthma, sleep apnea, snoring, blood pressure problems, seasonal allergies, anxiety and panic attacks, constant stress, or simply you have just realized that your breathing is shallow or at times erratic, this book is for you – which basically means it is for every one of us. Because. as the author states:
“No matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny or young or wise we are – none of it will matter unless we’re breathing correctly. (…) The missing pillar in health is breath. It all starts there.”
In the world of the respiratory syndrome coronavirus pandemia and when the words “I can’t breathe” stirred the #BlackLivesMatter movement to take desperate action, it seems like the book couldn’t have had a better timing. Perhaps the whole planet calls for a slower, more conscious breath and we as humankind need to answer that call, holistically and with proper attention. Because when one organ in our body or one element in our society is ailing, the whole system must be revised.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who breathes.