It’s hot here, and humid. This is not atypical for this place and this time of year. It’s been such an emotional week, and I’m spent. Our extended family is wrapping up an emotional journey, and we’ve followed along with their photos through our own tears. The daily news is hard to stomach, and the cycle never ends. And there’s the natural emotional pull that comes with family milestones, big and small. I feel this on the eve of each birthday, as we say farewell to another year of life. It’s a mixture of gratefulness and relief. We’ve survived to mark another tally mark on the yardstick of life. The heat and humidity takes me back to that place seven years ago, walking through a garden, breathing, stretching. Attempting to calm the nerves for what I knew lay ahead. Blissfully unaware of the even harder work beyond.
I did not know, on that steamy July morning, that the practice of breathing would become such an integral part of my life as it has unfolded. I relied on it to get me through the excruciating hours of pain that night. I learned to stretch it into patterns that saw me through gripping anxiety to a more peaceful acceptance of change. I lost it in the throes of grief; it escaped out the same pipe as our screams and cries, only returning in shallow whispers that kept me near home and still. I practice it now in ujjayi form, twice a week, on a mat. I practice it in rhythmic form, three times a week, on gravel paths and hills. I draw more strength from it than I could have imagined seven years ago.
It seems rather silly to think that the act of breathing can be such a vital component of change – we don’t even have to think about it as we do it. But still, I wish that there was some way to convince the world to take a deep, cleansing breath. Each morning, before each thought, and certainly before speaking or acting.
It’s silly, I know. But still.