WHY (OH WHY) CAN’T I BREATHE PROPERLY – DAY 6
Have you ever spent 5 minutes listening to an animal breathe? Or a human? Two rather different experiences possibly!
Was it in irritation because they were keeping you awake? Disturbing you in an exam? Revolting you in the cinema?
Or with peace and contentment at the gentle cadence of their breathing pattern?
The sound of someone else breathing can trigger aversion and dislike, or loving connection. But it can also loosen the knotty difficulty around our own breathing patterns.
When difficult breathing has been part and parcel of a traumatic event (and it always is – danger causes the body to shift into short, shallow breath, or stop breathing altogether in freeze moments), then forever after the breath can be a trigger into discomfort…until we find a way to approach the breath differently.
Today’s invitation is more than a little different!
After trauma, coming close to our own breathing can present a massive barrier to undoing this awkward link between the awful event/s and the breath. And while the world tells us breathing will heal and calm us, we are stuck in a sort of breathless purgatory, with an added dose of shame for being unable to get with the breathing-gig.
But watching someone else breathe can be fascinating. And what if it becomes a curious game of noticing and second-guessing the length of their next out-breath? Watching their body rise and fall. Their snores as a kind of interesting discordant modern music. The pauses between breaths as moments of expectant stillness. If you are very good friends, you might have a go at resting your hand on their tummy, and then you’re ‘touching’ someone’s breath – very special. I did this with my Dad in his last days and it was so affirming and transformational of our relationship.
Moving towards someone’s breath (animal or human) with curious interest changes everything.
I won’t spoil your ending. I’ll let you discover for yourself what happens to your aversion to breath (yours or anyone else’s) when you deliberately decide to listen to someone breathing. Or better still a dog or cat, gerbil etc – although you might need some form of stethoscope for this!
(Above – my Mum, feeling the dog breathing)
John Welwood: Forget about enlightenment
Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Download Tick Chart PDF