Before I started wearing glasses, lo twenty-some years ago, I didn’t realize that a person was supposed to be able to see leaves on trees. I’ll never forget riding home in the backseat from the appointment where I received my first pair of glasses; Continue reading
happiness lists are a way of practicing gratitude on Wednesday mornings, reflecting on the past week’s joyous moments. these posts are offered as an encouragement to notice and celebrate the precious little moments of your own life and maybe to even attribute them as a supernatural gift… Continue reading
There’s a reason that holding your breath kills you.
Out in the garden over the weekend, I filled up boxes with compost-y soil. It was hard work, but that was just what I needed–I’d been too static (stagnant) the last few days and needed some inner stirring up and re-settling.
Having learned in yoga practice to breath through the difficult parts, I noticed how my body hadn’t quite learned to carry that practice to yard work yet. When I heaved a shovel full of soil into the wheel barrow, I held my breath. My breath was shallow and short. As I lifted my shovel and moved the wheel barrow, I constantly reminded myself to take long, deep breaths.
It’s the breath that stirs things up and helps the body re-settle anyway. “Exercise is all about the breath,” I was told once–we don’t get the same benefit from a work out or a yoga session or yard work if we aren’t letting the breath in and out like bellows, stoking our inner fire, burning off the grumpiness that comes from stagnation.
When we hold our breath to get through a difficult moment, we’re refusing the healing and energizing power of the breath. When we put our heads down, give up our regular prayer lives, slack on our exercise regimen, stop responding to our friends’ calls,–just to get through a week or a season of busy difficulty–we’re holding our “breath,” refusing the healing and energizing power that God offers us through the Holy Spirit in prayer, in each other, in our own bodies, and in worship.
Whatever happens–especially in difficult, put-your-head-down, hauling soil kind of times, keep breathing.
This morning, we threw away a carton full of raspberries. They were big and juicy and red and just the right amount of tart (a week ago). I was saving them for something special. I never did discover what the special thing was, and while I was working hard to save them–seeing them taunting me on the refrigerator shelf every morning–they grew moldy. All my difficult work, saving them up for something special instead of enjoying them NOW, ended up to be for naught. My effort to enjoy them later ended up meaning that I never got to enjoy them–though I’m sure the mold spores enjoyed the berries very much.
Reflecting on moments and phases of life when I’ve been more generous with my time and energy, I know that those are the times I’ve been most happy. Then, more often than my generous moments, I get grabby with my time. I want to protect my moments and hours, to save them up for something. But why am I saving this precious time? Where is it all going? It goes into watching netflix and lolling around the house, into using up the energy on my wandering, worrying mind–which is not fun at all.
It’s like on high school track team, when our coach, Mr. Barney, told us to leave it all on the track at the end of a race. Why else had we trained our muscles for weeks and eaten carefully for days and stored up our energy that morning? I remember always being afraid that I would leave too much on the track–that my strength would give out before the end and I would just fall over, or that I’d just stop, or… whatever it is that happens when you really get to the end of your physical rope (can you tell I never really quite got there?). Because of course a 16-year-old who’s in decent shape should be worried about falling over after running half a mile (see “worrying mind” above).
Let’s worry less and leave more of ourselves in the moments of our lives.