A 20 Year Journey Culminates in the Breath of Awareness

The Importance of the Exhale

Jake Trigg
6 min readJan 8, 2023
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

20 years ago I began my journey with yoga and breath work. Now, as I am nearing completion of Kundalini Yoga teacher training, and have moved through the most tragic phase of my life, these lessons have culminated in a single point I call the Breath of Awareness. To fully understand this breath I must first share the origin.

The journey began as most good tales and great achievements do: with the quest for a woman. Back in college, I was trying out various approaches and one day stumbled into a yoga class. I was stunned to find such a place existed where I could work out alongside many beautiful women. At first I wasn’t sure I even belonged because there were so few men in the classes. I took me quite a while to get over this fear, yet I kept going because the potential rewards were so motivating.

One of the first lessons is that yoga is an internal practice. It is a focus on the breath. For me, there was no better test than to be surrounded by women. I can still remember the feeling after a class when I realized that for the first time that for an entire class, I was able to focus entirely on my breath. I wasn’t distracted by the temptation all around. It took about a year to get to this point. To never once fall prey to wandering eyes.

During this time I was also exploring the idea of purely platonic relationships with women. Can men and women be just friends?

I was taking philosophy courses in Buddhism and Yoga. In these classes, I learned about the nature of suffering. Suffering arises from the attachment to desire. So being just friends with women was a way to explore desire without attachment or expectations of what is involved with being more than friends.

When it came time to graduate college, my focus shifted from this internal journey to one that was more external. What job or career would I have? What would I create in the world?

I began a career in startup software. This started with building online reservations such as tee sheets for the upper echelon of private golf courses. I was bringing private membership clubs into the digital age. Millions of people have played golf after clicking buttons that I personally designed, coded, and implemented alongside prestigious golf professionals. Eventually, as the company grew through mergers and found a stabilization point, this work lost its excitement. It was time for the next phase.

I moved into running optimization tests for global brands. The tests I managed moved millions of dollars and impacted the strategic direction of household names across many industries. It was very exciting. But then the small startup sold to a public company and the signs of corporate grind were on the horizon. It was again time for me to look for more growth.

This is when I moved into the social media space. Again working with global, household names. I built chatbots and other cutting-edge software that directed the flow of conversations and support for millions of customers. I installed the software that Twitter now uses to collaborate and publish their tweets.

It was during this height of productivity that I and the entire world reached a limit. While riding my bike home from work one day, I was hit by a car. Right after the wreck COVID started. These events and the results that followed shook me to my core. It took several years to fully recover physically, mentally and emotionally.

As for many of us, the age of quarantine forced me to go inward. During recovery from the wreck and the quarantines, I was in so much pain that I was looking for ways to just feel normal. This is when yoga and breathwork once again became a focus.

As I laid in bed, hardly able to breathe, I focused on my breath. I focused on my body. I listened to hours upon hours of guided meditations. By doing this I was able to get to points where the pain was no longer completely overwhelming. I found some peace.

Later, once the initial quarantine was lifted, I decided to go to my first yoga class in several years. This is where I first caught COVID.

Again, I lost my breath. Now I had the practice to get it back but I didn’t have much drive left. I didn’t want to work anymore. I didn’t want to do anything really. Life had been so incredibly hard for a long time.

This is when I realized how important my kids are to me and I am to them. They are my angels.

This is when I started the internal journey of healing my childhood trauma and developing the practices to support my new life. There wasn’t any external marker that would give me what I needed. I had to find and fix the root causes of my suffering and build a new foundation.

This is when I began to untangle the web of mental and emotional turmoil I had built up over a lifetime. Working with wonderful coaches, therapists, gurus and psychedelics, I started to see amazing results.

I was able to stop taking medications for the depression and anxiety that I had my entire life. I no longer needed medication to regulate my blood pressure. I lost the extra weight almost overnight. I quit addictions to alcohol and pot. My diet changed. My career expanded. I started publishing children’s books. My relationship with my kids shifted tremendously. I wrote more, danced more, sang more.

I went through an explosion of creativity that came from redirecting the energy from focusing on protection to focusing on expression. And I found many new people and supportive communities on a similar path of healing and growth.

Comparing my life now to before the wreck is easy. I am on the same path as then but it’s more expansive and whole. Instead of suffering I have joy. Instead of depression I have expression. Instead of seeking external validation I am focusing inward. And in doing so I’m now more productive and balanced than ever.

As the saying goes, when the student is ready then the teacher appears. If you read between the lines then the saying can be about how someone can transform from being a student to being their own teacher. By studying and focusing on something of importance, one can gain enough experience to then earn the ability to teach others.

This is how I feel with the Breath of Awareness. It is about focusing on the exhale. Focusing on giving. Focusing on the internal process of creating space.

An extended exhale is relaxing. It also creates a negative pressure inside the lungs. With all actions having an equal and opposite reaction, this negative space is easily filled by the positive pressure from the external world. The lungs are easily refilled. After a full exhale, there is no effort required to breath in, and the breath can be incredibly enjoyable and relaxing.

The past 3 years has been a deep, deep journey into the exhale. At the beginning I was focused on the inhale. Focused on what I could bring in.

What I’ve realized is that the exhale is even more important and a better place to give single-pointed awareness.

By giving the breath, giving until you can give no more, it is much easier to then receive the abundance that is all around.

If it wasn’t for the extreme hardships of the past few years I would probably still be breathing in as strongly and much as possible. Focusing on what I can get. But with the Breath of Awareness I focus on what I can give, and let the receiving take care of itself.

If you’d like to try this breath then here’s a video to walk you through it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k542fLpKQSk

Please let me know how this lands for you :)

--

--

Jake Trigg

Author. Father. Artist and singer. Austin, TX is my home and canvas.