I have noticed that the phrase "breathe in the light" is used in several seemingly unrelated pieces of music, for instance, it is the name of a "Stellardrone" track, and in the song "Oblivion" by Susanne Sundfør and M83 there are words

Breathe in the light
I'll stay here in the shadows,
Waiting for a sign, as the tide grows
Higher and higher and higher

Breathe in the light
And say goodbye
Breathe in the light
And say goodbye

These words appear to be more or less meaningless even in the context, and are encountered in seemingly unrelated texts, so I wonder: is "breathe in the light" a quote or a reference to some popular piece of art or concept?

Also, I do not know how the grammatical ambiguity here is resolved. Is "breathe in the light" intended to mean "to breathe the light in" or "to breathe [being] in the light"?

  • 1
    Song lyrics are notoriously ,,, enigmatic is the kinder term, open to interpretation the moderate, and obscure often the sad reality. This question may well be closed on 'answers will be largely mere opinion' grounds, Daigaku. For what it's worth, I'd assume the 'Breathe and do so in the light' reading, with 'breathe' and 'light' metaphorically suggestive of a healthy and ('light') well-sorted, respectable life. Jan 18 at 15:56
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth: Fair point about lyrics being open to interpretation! Perhaps in illustration of that, I'd assume the "breathe the light in" meaning, as I think this is a relatively common exhortation in yoga classes and the like.
    – psmears
    Jan 18 at 16:36
  • @YosefBaskin, please, write this as an answer, so that I could accept it Jan 18 at 18:38
  • @psmears I was taking into account the similarity (though contrastive) of the next line, 'I'll stay here in the shadows'. Jan 19 at 0:18
  • @EdwinAshworth: Fair enough, that does make sense. Of course it's also entirely possible that the intended meaning is "both of the above" (i.e. deliberate ambiguity) :)
    – psmears
    Jan 19 at 10:34

1 Answer 1


Breathe in the light is poetic, meaning that poets and lyricists use it any way they want to. But the phrase does abound in meditation and yoga breathing. (Credit to member psmears for the link.)

Breathe in the light is a figurative instruction in breathing techniques of meditation, to imagine that you inhale (breathe in) and invite a pure/fresh/cleansing quality (the light). And then it is. Any such image that keeps your attention on your breath keeps your attention on the present moment, the meditative goal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.