I am laughing to myself as I uploaded this photo, because somehow I unintentionally shot it upside down. But now that I see it this way, many thoughts have entered my thawing brain, as to how should I breathe when life feels completely upside down?
I received this beautiful little polished stone last Saturday, when I attended a “Building Resilience Workshop,” with a close friend of mine.
Resilience…”the capacity to prepare for, recover from, and adapt in the face of stress, challenge, or adversity.”
When I agreed to take this class, I knew very little about it, and just trusted upon my friend’s good judgment, and her willingness to sign me up. Originally I had surmised that it would probably have something to do with “dealing with grief in a positive kinda way type interactive course,” but I was stoked to realize that this course was about dealing with stress, and building resilience.. Now who can’t get behind that concept?… Sign me up for more encouragement pretty please!
There were only about 8 of us students in attendance. The classroom was cozy, and there was an offering of bananas, bagels and cream cheese, granola bars, fruit juice, and of course fresh coffee and tea.
The facilitator was a wonderful man that I had taken a “Grief Workshop” 5 week course with last year, at almost this same time. My same girlfriend had also attended the grief workshop too. His wife was joining him this particular day, and the better breathing tools that he shared with us were so simple, and yet so affective.
Breathing…who knew??.. It doesn’t cost anything, there is nothing to order, no classes to attend to figure out how to do it…Nope it’s innate, it comes naturally. It’s free…yes..breathing is still open and available to all who wish to continue on this planet. It’s highly recommended in order to sustain life, and yet it struck me, how I had taken it for granted…Shame on me!…
Breathe in…oxygen…breathe out..carbon dioxide.. It’s a simple exchange, and yet it is critical to us..it matters..without it, I perish…we all would.
I have found through my years on this earth, that I have a habit of holding my breath. I’m not exactly sure why I do this…but all of a sudden I will find myself exhaling with great gusto, and I think, what was I doing?.. Am I so scatterbrained, that I “forget to exhale?” This gives me pause….sometimes I yawn insessantly, then I realize that my body is trying to remind me, you had better breathe soon, or something rather bad is imminent.
I think it’s natural that when we are frightened, we hold our breath, we wait, we are on high alert. If we do this too many times, or are in a constant state of fear or alertedness, we are said to be in a state of “fight or flight.”
I have been thinking, especially since last Saturday’s teaching, all of the things, and experiences that I have allowed to keep me in the state of ” forgetting to exhale.”
This is something that needs to be focused on…and therefore it’s important to sit still and be present in the moment. It’s is astounding how quickly I find myself decompressing when I breathe in deep for 5 seconds, then exhale slowly for 5. Just doing this for a minute, and picturing an alluring scene, or memory from my mind allows me to exhale consciously. I notice sound in the quiet. There are buzzings, and bird chirpings, and a plane flying over head. There is quiet…and yes there is even peace.
I never would have thought of conscientious breathing to be something to be sought after. The feeling of immediate calm from within astounds me… and it didn’t even cost a thing… this breathing… Such a gift, each breath we take…
I remember with absolute clarity the first breaths and cries of my babies coming into the world. I remember my baby boy who did not take a breath, and I think of my daughters’ last breath. I wasn’t in the room with her…:but when I knew she had breathed her last…I too…held my breath…I wanted to go and be where she was….Her last breath took her away from me, and that….is hard.
She came from the dust, and she will return to dust. The dryness of the winter earth reminds me, that we are all here here for but a season, a piece of time…
There is much to be gleaned to sit still, to be in the quiet, and to be conscious of your breathing, the rise and fall of your chest… For now, there is still time..there are other moments to be experienced, to be celebrated.
I came away from that class with a renewed sense of the here and now, and renewed purpose entered my being. There was still so much to do, so much ahead, and some of it does make me want to stop breathing….but this is not an option. As it is with pain, I must step forward into the unknown, trusting and believing that those experiences that I can’t change, will very probably change me.
I choose to not drown in the rough and turmultuous river of worry, but rather give these things over, and lay them down, and breathe into them. They have come my way for a reason, and I need to feel that, and to acknowledge that a change of seasons in life happens to us one and all. It is inevitable….
If I am watchful for signs, and reminders, I see them. Today I talked to a gal at the bank, and she threw me for a loop as she answerd the phone, and introduced herself as Bianka. I was just intending to order new cheques, but before I realized it, I knew that I had to learn more about this girl because of her name.
She was very kind as we exchanged pleasantries.
” I like your name.”
“Thank you.” “My Mom heard it in a movie, and decided that she really liked it.”
“My daughter who passed away was named Bianca,” I blurted out..
” Oh Im so sorry…” She said sincerely
” My daughter had quite a few nicknames, Bonkees, and Bonkers, to name a few?”
” No way…my brother calls me Bonkers.”
I explained to her that my Bianca’s brothers, called her that too. With that …a unique connection was made, and she breathed some new life into my day.
She asked me to make sure to make myself known to her the next time I came into the bank to do business. I let her know that I would be so delighted to meet her, and with that we finished up our call, and I told her that I would come by to greet her soon.
That was such an unexpected treat today. Somehow my Bianca didn’t seem so far away, and I felt a breath closer to her, if even just for that moment.
These seemingly unplanned occurrences fill me with hope…and joy too. It fills up my lungs with renewed oxygen that feels fresh and light, clean and bright. I even shared with her the story of our kitty that my son adopted because her name was “Bonkers.”
The kitty, Bonkers , just adores my son Logan, and he knows that she was meant to be for him….to comfort him.
If we search, if we take the time, these connections are made known to us, and I don’t believe it us just chance…no..no..these things are sent down to us from a God who cares that we mourn, that we miss our departed loved ones. I believe He sends us these treats to let us know that we are not alone….He is here. I find immense comfort in that.
For now, I keep on breathing, grateful for my next breath, and I will look forward into the great unknown, and one shaky breath at a time, I will walk on ahead, and possibly, the breaths will become more even, less static, and fractured..until one day, they are stronger again, and , I won’t find myself holding on, and I won’t be afraid to exhale.
Its like “Dory”, in “Finding Nemo,” except instead of saying “just keep swimming,” I am staying, “Just keep breathing…..”
It would seem that “the good life,” has turned out to be the somewhat polar opposite, of what I had envisioned. I am quite sure that I am not alone in this. I’ve heard the saying..”life is what happens, when you are busy making plans.” There are curves in the road, there is rough terrain, and sometimes I feel that my “hip waders” should come up to my neck, to keep me above the water line, and maybe a little less soaked through.
It is imperfect, this life. It changes…I change…Life can be good, even when it’s hard, and it hurts….It is there there for the taking, the enjoying, the diving into… It was never meant to be a spectator sport. I refuse to sit on the bench of my life, and be a substitute.