A guest post by Steve Waller.

Take a deep breath and try to hold it for as long as you can.

Go on… do it now.

The longer you go, the harder it becomes. Not only does it begin to hurt physically, you have to fight against your natural urge to release the breath; to let go.

A single breath, when held for too long, symbolizes one of the biggest psychological and spiritual challenges we face as beings of consciousness. It captures the desire almost all of us have to cling on to something for fear of losing it, even when it is to our own detriment.

In Buddhism, it’s known as upādāna which literally translates as fuel. This clinging is the fuel for dukkha, another Buddhist term that means suffering. So the more you cling to things, the more you fuel your own suffering.

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