1. Deep, slow rhythmic pace It grounds me. It takes me out of my thinking mind and I embody the present moment and smile. 2. A sense of control I can hold my breath. I can lengthen my exhales more than my inhales. I can whistle. I can sigh. I can sing and even make myself yawn. 3. Tight and constrictive In those moments of anxiety or hurt, my breath is shallow and tight like a sharp pain in my chest. When I try to take a deep breath, I feel my chest constrict and tighten like a sob about to break free. 4. Connection All living beings on this planet breathe be it with lungs or gills. We all enter this world and take our first breath. We laugh and cry together. We can chant OM. We can sing a melodic tune. 5. Conduit to peace When I remember that I can control my breath, I create the optimal route to peace with just one breath. I could argue with my words or ruminate an imagined reply in my mind. Or I can breathe and let it be.
Why are we here at this moment in time on this small blue green planet?
They say we too are made up of the stars down to the smallest molecule. It can feel so small when the universe is so vast. How can I affect change as such?
What I know is my life has meaning. The answer is always connection. The root is love. So how did I live the answer? I must have lived the question first.
What I didn’t know is I was being led by invisible forces, situations, people and opportunities which became my challenges, my lessons, my guides.
How to live a life well lived and loved is the question. It took me 40+ years to come to the realization and to accept even if the universe is so vast and my actions seem so small and individual, there is a ripple.
If I too am made up of the stars, I have a light inside. A unique heart like an emerald when the light hits it a certain way. I do not know who put it there or where does the light originate from. I can accept that it’s a part of me and we each have our own illuminated hearts beating in our chest. Not so narrow and individually separate. Our hearts can be in rhythm like the collective breath that illuminates the soul.
My 8 year old daughter (V) is distance learning. We spent the weekend clearing off her desk, removing the paper clutter; out with the old to make space for the new. My 4 year old daughter (L) has been away from daycare and home since March. Some days she has separation anxiety when one of us leaves. Today was a big day for her. She would be away from both parents for a good chunk of the day, around seven plus hours.
She protested. She didn’t want to get dressed and had become accustomed to pajama wearing most days. Comfort and play was key. She balked at the shirt Mommy chose and picked her LOVE emoji shirt instead. She wanted to play and this new routine was keeping her away from her toys and imaginative play. V got dressed and was watching a YouTube video on her iPad.
My husband announced, “We have to take a first day of school picture!” Begrudgingly, the girls posed in front of the bush. L held her pink bunny and a few toys from home to take for the car ride. Adorable smiles and a pose of the leg. Click!
We packed the car and headed out. L asked me to play music on the radio. With only commercials or annoying pop music to choose from, I pressed play on the cued up CD and held my breath. I didn’t know what I was going to hear. Fingers crossed. It was Depeche Mode. There was silence from the backseat. No protest. We drove out onto the street.
The first day. It was the first day of seeing a handful of school buses on the road. I said, “Look, a bus! It’s everyone’s first day too.” We pulled into the familiar lot of her former daycare. The one that was closed for so long. I heard her take a deep purposeful breath. Then another. She was calming herself. I thought, she is listening. She sees and hears everything. She’s been seeing and listening to me practice yoga and meditation, and demonstrating calming breaths and she internalized that. It became a useful tool in her toolbox to calm her anxiety. That is a win in my book and I don’t want to discount it. I was a proud mama.
We got out of the car. The daycare’s slide was wrapped in caution yellow tape. No trapezes swung on the bare playset. All the grownups were wearing a mask. We had to take a different entrance. No parents are allowed inside the building. L’s prekindergarten class will help form the foundation for her to be ready for a successful kindergarten next year. She held onto her pink bunny, now sealed in the school-required Ziplock bag. We held each other as she cried and didn’t want to let me go. I let out a tear too. The teacher said “Good morning!” And handed L a welcome goodie bag. She gave us a few moments to say goodbye and then led L into class. Luckily, I parked in front of her classroom window so we could wave and blow kisses.
It sure is a different time to be living in. Today I’m back to work. It’s the first Monday in a long time. My husband is at home managing his telework and setting up V for her day of google meets and independent work. We will make it through. We’ll run into each other’s arms at the end of the day, check in and share the events that unfolded. We got this. It’s only the beginning of a new chapter. A return to somewhat normalcy and we will always have each other.