You say in the ordinary way “I breathe” because you feel that breathing is something that you are doing voluntarily, just in the same way as you might be walking or talking. But you will also notice that when you are not thinking about breathing, your breathing goes on just the same.Alan Watts
How often do you think about your breathing?
For most people, the honest answer is “not often.” At least, perhaps, until this year.
The coronavirus attacks the lungs, the organ responsible for our breathing. If you had the virus or know someone who had it, perhaps you have a new appreciation for what the lungs do for you every day.
Whether or not you’re paying attention to your breath, the lungs are working for you. The same is true of your heart. Your kidneys. Your liver. Your digestive functions. And all the other systems and functions at work in the body.
Consider, for a moment, all the things your body does for you without your conscious involvement. You don’t have to set a timer to tell your body when to digest food. No need to create a to-do list for your various physical functions.
As long as you’re alive, and everything is working properly, your body pretty much takes care of itself.
Obviously, it helps if we take care of the body, to keep these systems functioning.
Imagine if you had to actively tend to all those functions, if you had to run down a checklist of processes every day. It would be a heavy cognitive load. You wouldn’t get anything else done.
The fact that these processes take care of themselves frees up your mind for other endeavors.
Even if you are dwelling in fear about the future or ruminating on the past, even if you are finding difficulty in this moment to feel gratitude, the fact that you are thinking about anything at all means your mind is not preoccupied with calculating how many times your heart needs to beat this minute or how your body will extract the nutrients from what you ate in your most recent meal.
Managing and orchestrating the workings of your physical system is a load you don’t have to carry.
And that’s something to be grateful for.