Your Breath is Your Theme Song

Your Breath is Your Theme Song


himba woman

My theme this week has been based on this interesting story I read recently.

“There is a tribe in Africa called the Himba tribe, where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she meditates and listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.

And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.

In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.

The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—the song to that person.”

Isn’t that story so interesting? It’s so off topic, but there’s this Family Guy episode (I know, haha) where Peter Griffin wants to have his own “theme song” to play as he moves through his day. And essentially, this Himba tribe tradition is creating a theme song for a person from the moment it comes to a mother’s time in meditation, through that person’s whole life, to the day that person dies.

You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you to celebrate your happy moments or sings to you during your challenging ones, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes it may help you.

As yogis, I like to think that our breath is our song. It works in a similar way, carrying us through our good moments and the challenging ones too. The song of our breath keeps us in tune.

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