If we breathe deeply,
feeling erupts,
grows too intense for us.
So we keep our breath shallow.
To breathe deeply
is to receive
and that is the feminine incarnate.

—Marion Woodman

Do you keep the breath shallow or brace the body to keep the eruption — or explosion — of feeling at bay?

Bracing or shallow breathing are natural responses to fear. They give us a sense of protection or control. The shift from shallow to deep breathing when emotions arise requires trust that we can endure the feeling, and that it will move through us.

The truth is that the feeling will eventually have its say whether the breath is shallow or deep — but an eruption will be less intense when the emotions are free to arise instinctively.

Breathing deeply is synonymous with receiving, and receiving is the “feminine incarnate.” What does incarnate mean?


(especially of a deity or spirit) embodied in flesh; in human form.

The word “embodied” has become commonplace, but having a felt sense of embodiment can feel vague and difficult to grasp. What does it mean in practice?

The simple practice of receiving the full breath into the body brings this lofty word down to its rightful, earthy place.

When we fully receive the breath, in that moment we experience embodiment.

The key is to allow the breath — to let it be — but not to force it.

If the breath is forced it becomes something else to control. A kind of “doing” focused on achievement and performance, which is the opposite of the embodied feminine.

When you feel disconnected from yourself, confused, or lost, what might happen if you welcomed more breath into the body — if you breathed into the experience rather than bracing or holding it down?

Receiving breath is receiving life.

Invitations for reflection, exploration, and action:

  • Experiential Breathing Exercise:
    • Lie down on your back, close your eyes and let your diaphragm expand and contract naturally.
    • Find the place in the body where you can easily connect to the sensation of the in-breath — your nose, chest, abdomen, or rib cage, for example.
    • After 5-7 cycles of observing the in-breath and out-breath at the place in your body you identified, imagine that with every in-breath you are receiving the energy you need right now (peace, love, acceptance, trust, etc.) in the form of a color, an image, word, or whatever spontaneously arises. If there is something you would like to release, you can imagine a color, image, or word as you breathe out.
    • Observe at least 10 more cycles of in-breath and out-breath, and notice whatever arises for you.

© Victoria Priya, LCSW [formerly Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)

Radiant Threefold Path articles are protected by U.S. copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, distributed, or re-published without written permission of the author.

Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul (©1998)
By Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick
(Reprinted with permission)

*This post is from the Coming Home to You Series. Visit this page for the backstory of the CHTY Series.



I want to support you to Return to the authentic truth of who you are, Reclaim what is yours, and Receive everything that is meant for you. So that you can Regenerate your life, your relationships, community, and the world.

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