To Really Breathe
Living near the ocean in Maine for over a decade, one may discover that there is a whole other rhythm to keep track of. For many years, my mind kept a quiet corner of awareness reserved for what the tide was doing. “Is it too high to take the dog?” Or, “the tide’s out, let’s go look for cool treasures!” The slow filling and emptying always seemed like an obvious metaphor for breath, but I found that once I started looking, those metaphors were not very hard to find. Yes, anything that expands and contracts and naturally falls into rhythm, anything that flows life in this nature is metaphor potential. But I have discovered one simple philosophy about breath which really seems to nail it for me: You live like you breathe, and you breathe like you live.
This is where you may stop and consider how you are breathing. Right now. But also, how do you breathe all the time when you’re not paying attention? And how likely are you to yell at yourself about it? The most peculiar, and one of the most interesting things about the phenomenon of breathing is that we have the option of thinking about it and controlling it, or not. My job as a Somatic Breathwork Practitioner is to take you on an intense, definitely transformational, often
feelsy journey involving paying a lot of attention your breath for awhile, so that when you come out the other side, you have much more access to breath and oxygen, that even when you are not paying attention, you are breathing more and hence living more. And oh, what FUN that is!
Like the tide, the in and out of breath dictates a flow of life, gathering and disbursing resources to create balance, sustainability, inspiration. For me, whole worlds of access to myself opened up when I turned my attention toward my breath. I started dancing for real. I no longer felt anxious in 90% of situations that had been a hard pass up until then. I heard my own voice and felt good about it. I saw myself in the mirror and felt good about it. I saw colors more brightly, heard music like a magical elixir, tasted food like a miracle, and let myself laugh and dance like no one was watching. And the best part about it is that these shifts, once realized, never crept back into the shadows. Breathe more, live more.
Of course we know that there is no “cure for the chronically human,” that is, except for death. But if we are subscribers to the suggestion on bumper stickers of the New Age that we are energetic beings having a human experience, it’s easier to believe that as long as you are a human in a physical body, then there is still room for growth. As long as there is still air moving in and out of your body, your human experience is informing your soul, and with each wave of energy there is information and growth and magic for you to experience. Looking for a cure, or a “fix” to a piece of ourselves that feels broken or damaged is a very seductive attitude, but one that will always turn out to be a pitfall.
Since 2010, a growing awareness of the tide of my breath has worn down edges of self-loathing, corroded walls of protection and washed me up on the shore of my own familiar love. It has come down again and again to the realization that if I want to feel good in life, if I want to be steady and up to speed with my expansive, universal nature, then I MUST accept myself right here and now, no matter what it looks like. Breathing more fully helps the attitude of love and appreciation to encapsulate the “all that is-ness” of existence, bringing it into the fresh salty breeze to air out.