I grew up hearing, “Be still now….be still.” My parents meant for me to go away, to stop being a bother, to not “crowd” them. I often wandered off to my cave up on the hillside, just above our house out on the holler. With the cool earth beneath my bottom and the smell of dirt in my nose, I did as I was told. I sat still. Inside the shadows of my cave, I watched. I could see my family, but they couldn’t see me.
Subtle sounds of nature seeped into my ears, capturing my attention. Rustling leaves, busy squirrels, chirping birds. And, in the quietness, I noticed my breath; how it felt and sounded as it moved in and out of my body. It felt separate from me; like it had its own mind. Like it could just stop if it wanted to. I was convinced that it could.
Polly, my little sister who was profoundly disabled, was evidence that all of life is contained in the breath. She had no control over bodily functions, so it was curious to me how the breath moved an otherwise static body. It was like the breath was breathing her, not the other way around. Her seizures really confirmed this. A seizure would leave her limp and lifeless, as if some greater force was sucking out her very essence. Mom would tap on Polly’s chest and rub her face while asking her to come to, to come back. To breathe. Watching Polly, so often on the precipice of dying, over her short life of nearly fourteen years proved to me that the breath is what holds us between life and death.
Breath is life.
Unlike Polly, most of us do have the ability to control our body, our breath. As part of yoga and meditation, we practice what’s called pranayama. In Sanskrit, prana means life energy (or breath) and yama means control. So, in simple terms, pranayama means to control the breath. Intentional breathing is at the heart of energy medicine. This is why the art and science of yoga brings immediate positive change to us. Breathing with purpose is deeply healing—on every level.
My fascination with breathing began at an early age and now, in my later years, things have come full circle. Teaching others about what I’ve come to know about breathing is my work. My journey has taken me from very conservative environments, deep into woo-woo land, and everywhere in between. Integrating spiritual insights with my practical way of being is how I approach working with clients. I meet each person where they are and, together, we build a system that suits their needs.
I now know that being shooed away [[“go on now, git….you’re crowdin’ me”]] was a blessing in disguise. A blessing because, although feeling like a burden, a bother, those moments of being alone in my cave taught me how to soothe myself. Much like how a calming salve eases the pain of a scraped knee, being still and watching the breath soothes our invisible aches, hurts, and sorrows. Your breath is your superpower—it should be your primary tool for every situation in life.
So long as you have breath, you have a way to help yourself. Intentional breathing calms your nerves, which, in turn, harmonizes your body and mind. When your body and mind are in harmony, the hard stuff in life doesn’t rattle you so much. In fact, the tough stuff becomes more of a curiosity than a hardship. Intentional breathing is, in and of itself, a self-healing and meditative practice. It’s not complicated. It’s available to everyone.
Be still now.
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