My first memory is of breath, frustration, and letting go. I am taking a nap with my mother. My head is on her chest, my belly to her belly. I could not have been more than two at that size. I try to match my breathing to her breathing, the rise and fall of my chest and belly to hers, but I cannot inhale and exhale that slowly no matter how hard I try. I give in to my own rhythm, remember no more; I fell asleep.
Yesterday, I was looking at the clouds outside my window, waiting for the big snow storm. We were poised. It was a “hold it” moment. The weather had inhaled, the community waited, and we wondered how big the exhale would be. This morning, for my particular region, the exhale was a gentle one.
I am energized by that moment before a big storm, especially a rain storm in warm weather when I can be outside to experience it. I remember walking with my good friend Tim when the wind suddenly picked up, the clouds blocked the sun, and we both grinned as we felt the air charge itself. And then the rain poured down.
Potential verses kinetic energy. I can still see the image in my physics text book of a rock poised on the edge of a cliff to show the height of kinetic energy.
(I just finished having tea with my two young nieces. I made a pot of Thai Chai, which is the usual flavors of chai (ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom…) with lemongrass too. Verrrry niiiice. Oranges and gluten-free brownies baked by my husband the night before round out our afternoon tea. I read for an hour or so while we all sipped and munched. We are on the third book of the Aikiko series, and it is quite an adventure. Spuckler is our favorite character, and his voice oscillates between cowboy and gangster. Heh. The girls don’t seem to mind the inconsistency.)
As a teenager I experimented with (it’s not what you think I’m going to say) meditation and the slowing down of my breathing. I suppose that first memory stayed with me, the desire to control my inhale and exhale to match…something else. One evening I lit some incense in my room and settled in to see how slow I could go. I reached a point where the only way I could slow down further was to add the “hold it” moment in between exhales and inhales. My “hold it” got longer and longer, but of course I couldn’t hold it forever before exhaling and starting the round again. I can still remember the frustration of not being able to stay in that in-between time: it was so intense and clear. A part of me was unsettled by this desire to stay in the “hold it”, and I opened my eyes, blew out the incense, and stopped practicing meditation. It wasn’t until I was an adult years later did I feel safe with meditation after a good experience at the end of a yoga class.
My sister-in-law gave me a subscription to YogaGlo.com for Christmas this year. It has tons of online yoga and meditation videos, and helps me organize my routine. What a motivating way to keep moving through the winter. Matching breath and movement are essential to the yoga practice; inhales and exhales to create a conscious slide from one pose to the next. This morning’s session was challenging to me because the instructor added a “hold it” aspect. During many of the poses, I had to inhale a move, hold it, then exhale to the next move. I struggled with even three seconds of the in-between breath.
It is ok. I will keep trying. I shall make tea, watch the snow, and breathe comfortably in my own rhythm.
Move with intention.