Hospice worker James Jarrett writes for the Spiritual Naturalist Society:
For Spiritual Naturalists, spirit is not something apart from Nature. In fact, the origins of the English word “spirit” have to do with breath. We see this connection in the word “inspiration”. When a new baby is born their first task is in fact a spiritual one: “Breathe!” The child breathes in, and then “Waaaaaaaahhh!” They breathe out with the first cry of life. Breathe in… Breathe out… (who is it that breathes?) and the life-sustaining respiratory (there it is again) process has begun.
Have you ever noticed that inhaling and exhaling always go together? What happens if you only inhale and then hold your breath? Go ahead. Try it. If we cling to the breath, it will not be long before we lose it. Possibly for good.(3) This most basic of spiritual activities: breathing continues from birth on until sometime in the future when there will be one final exhalation with no inhalation to follow. “How did you know he was gone?” “He stopped breathing.”
James has offered valuable feedback on my own, ongoing Way of Life and Death project and is well worth listening to on this vital/mortal subject.