A “breatharian” is someone who claims to not eat food. These rare humans remain in a perpetual fast and say they get their energy from other sources, such as sunlight and ancient breathwork techniques.
Being well-versed in whacky wellness and spiritual topics, I’ve heard of breatharians before, but have always been highly skeptical of them. Is this actually possible… or is it all a big scam with a lot of smoke and mirrors? I decided to find out.
I knew the only way to get some answers was to spend time with a real breatharian. Luckily, my good friend Jeff Shub told me he knew a breatharian who lived in Miami named Devon, aka the Black Air Bender.
So I headed to Miami to spend the day with the Black Air Bender to try and get some answers.
Immersing myself in Breatharianism
To get the full breatharian experience, I decided to become a breatharian for a day and immerse myself in the Black Air Bender’s lifestyle. That meant I would also be fasting for the day. Since I have completed a 5-day water fast before, this wouldn’t be a problem for me.
But not drinking any coffee would be another story. I had become addicted to caffeine throughout the past few months and going without it for a day would turn out to be quite a painful challenge.
Meeting the Breatharian
Upon meeting Devon, he revealed to me that he has been fasting for the past four years! I was shocked by this. He said that it took him two years to integrate into the breatharian lifestyle, by having one meal per week. After two years, he transitioned to 100 percent breatharianism. This was hard for me to believe.
“How is this possible?” I asked him.
Devon explained that breatharians can reach a certain state of “energy cultivation” where they no longer need to rely on dense foods. This involves a disciplined practice of certain breathwork and meditation techniques.
Was this for real? As skeptical as I was, I wanted to stay as open-minded as possible.
Breatharian roots in Daoism
He told me that he got into breatharianism through an ancient Daoist fasting practice called Bigu. He trained for months with a mentor called a Sifu to learn all of the meditation and breathwork techniques that he says allow him to transcend the body and sustain this lifestyle.
The Breatharian diet
Devon explained that although he doesn’t eat, he does consume a few key things. He said he drinks coconut water, fresh-pressed juice every once in a while, and… his own urine.
His reasoning for this? He claims urine contains 103 healthy minerals and is more sterile than distilled water. (I would fact-check that one.)
Having already spent a day with a urine drinker for a previous video, this was not a new concept to me. Personally, I don’t subscribe to urine therapy and recommend people do their research before trying it.
The Breatharian loves pyramids
I noticed that Devon’s room was full of pyramids, including a solid canopy-like pyramid over his bed and he is always wearing a pyramid-shaped hat. He explained that he uses the pyramid as a symbol for his meditative practice.
Devon said he envisions pyramids “expanding and contracting” in his mind. He also compares pyramids to the shape of the human face, describing it as the “window to the soul.” I didn’t totally understand this, but Devon had me do some mirror-gazing to grasp the idea.
My day as a Breatharian
We started our morning with one of Devon’s daily rituals: squat breathing. This practice involved an inhale through the nose on the way up, and an exhale through the nose on the way down… with a smile. This was actually quite fun and I felt unable to control my giggle response.
More breathwork techniques
After showing me more of his breathwork practices at home, we headed to a local park for more techniques that Devon does every day. We started with a walking breathwork practice. The hardest thing about this was how hot the ground was.
Devon encouraged me to stay focused on my breath until I could no longer feel the heat on my feet. After overcoming the pain of the hot cement, I actually found this practice to be quite relaxing.
After that, we tried a “flame breathing” practice. I had a hard time sticking with this one. I was painfully hungry and had a pounding headache at this point. Devon reassured me that this was part of the detox, which made sense considering I was detoxing from caffeine.
We finished off the day by putting my pain tolerance to the test with one of Devon’s more extreme practices… standing on nails.
My challenge was to stand on the nails for one minute. With the timer set, I put each foot on the nails until I had my full weight on them. I breathed my way through each passing second with Devon encouraging me to slow down my exhales, hum, and let it all out.
When the minute was over, I couldn’t believe I did it. That’s when Devon said it was time to try push-ups.
It was at this moment that I thought about how my relationship to pain had completely changed since I started doing things that are painful with intention like cold therapy and even intense exercise.
We often think of pain as being “wrong” or “bad,” but the truth is that pain is an inevitable part of the human experience and it’s only our perception of pain that gives it meaning.
I kept that in mind as I felt the nails pierce through the skin on my hands.
My honest opinion about the breatharian
Although I learned a lot from spending the day with Devon and engaging in his unconventional practices, I still have many questions about breatharianism and am not totally sure what to make of the whole experience.
As skeptical as I still am, I do feel like Devon gave me an honest peek into his breatharian lifestyle. It also helped to meet Devon’s partner Gen who confirmed that she has never seen him eat in the two years they’ve lived together.
I want to believe Devon. I think he’s a genuine and kind person and it meant a lot to me that he welcomed me into his world for a day. It didn’t feel like he was lying, but my logical brain has a hard time wrapping my head around some of the big claims he made.
Even if I am still puzzled by the Black Air Bender and may never know the truth, it doesn’t take away from how much I learned during our day together.
The meaning of it all
The Black Air Bender may remain a mystery to me, but I respect his mission to share breath consciousness with the world. One major awakening I had during our day together is how addicted to caffeine I truly was.
Something in me woke up that day and I decided to quit caffeine immediately. It’s been almost a month since this experience and I haven’t had caffeine and don’t plan to. My energy levels are back and I’m not dealing with crazy mood swings like I was.
When it comes to learning about new ways of life, being open-minded is crucial if we want to shift from judgment to curiosity. That one small shift can create infinite potential and completely expand our realities.
That’s why spending time with interesting humans like The Black Air Bender, is my favorite way to live.