Significance of Breath for Soul Life

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By: Ursula Stehle, Ph.D.

"Through the lungs the human soul
... is membered into earthly life. "

- Walther Holzapfel

Our breath is symbol and medium of soul. From yoga, and other eastern practices we know, that physical, and psychological health can be influenced by conscious breathing. When we are anxious or fearful we briefly hold our breath or our breathing is shallow. The same can happen when there is a fear of connecting. When we interview people suffering from asthma we frequently find that they feel alone. Some may feel un­supported in their soul life. How can we understand this?

When we breathe, there is a direct meeting of inner and outer in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This pro­cess is symbolic of the constant exchange that exists between the individual and the world. Each one of us constantly inter­acts with the world through our senses. We constantly fine tune our experience of our­selves in relation to the world, and our ex­perience of the world in relationship to ourselves. When this process is complicated either through biographical or con­stitutional conditions, soul experience can­not freely unfold and blossom. This situ­ation can find expression psychologically, in feelings that one just does not belong. Physiologically, a fear of deeply connect­ing with others can manifest in breathing difficulties and asthma.

This brief expose did not explore en­vironmental causes but inner predispos­ing forces. It is the belief of the author that we should always address outer and inner factors equally.

Ursula R Stehle, Ph.D., is an integrative clinical psychologist in Fair Oaks, California. Dr Stehle uses anthroposophically trained therapists in her private practice, primarily Curative Art and Curative Movement.

"...and what of those delicate and angelic souls
who find it hard to live in bodies such as ours?"

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