About 5 years ago I began to realize that I was not experiencing rich inhales, the kind that rejuvenate and relax my whole body and provide a feeling of, all-is-okay. And, I could not recall a memory of what it feels like to breath fluidly into my whole body. I started to wonder if I had ever felt comfortable breathing because most of the time it was almost as if I was suffocating while breathing.
Did I somehow forget how to breathe?!
5 years ago I was neck deep in the full-time mothering of my 2 year old, owning and operating my co-created business, seeing my private massage clients, managing 15 rental units, and care taking a friends 1 year old a couple of days per week.
Of course now I consider all of this and I easily understand why I was only sipping air. I was stressed out to the max and had myself convinced that I could/should do-it-all.
I wanted to do it all to some extent, or I guess I should say, I needed to do it all. We were dependent on my income and not a penny of it came from my co-created business that I loved. My income came from managing rental properties, seeing massage clients, and watching my friends son.
I was determined to do-it-all, because I wanted it all.
I wanted the income, I wanted my business, and I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.
I was suffocating in the reality I had created and I was quickly loosing my marbles. I could not breathe, my body hurt, my digestive system was angry, my marriage was falling apart, and I questioned my ability to be a good mother.
In the name of self preservation I slowly started to let go of what I could but it has taken 5 years to reach the point of ALMOST being able to breathe fluidly again.
It is almost as if those years of high stress impacted my nervous system so much so that I have had to reprogram everything about myself, primarily my ability to breathe.
Or, maybe, I have had difficulty breathing for my whole life….
I spent the first 16 days of my life in an issolet due to staph infection in my blood stream. Not only was I unable to be held, nursed, or even touched skin-to-skin, I had blood taken from my heels multiple times per day. Of course I have no memories of this but it most certainly impacted my nervous system at a very young age.
I was also a stressed-out kid. I experienced the divorce of my parents, both of them remarrying, both of them divorcing again, my mom remarrying, and us moving 8 times between the ages of 8 -17. At 17 years old, and in my final year of high school, I chose to be out-on-my own instead of moving to another city or state when those were my only options.
Maybe all of this contributes to why I have no memory of what it feels like to breathe fully. I was constantly uprooted, my foundation never felt secure and safe. As we moved and I matured I was becoming layered with inhibitions because the whole of me could not settle, relax, be. I was holding my breath and wondering what would come next.
I moved an additional 14 times by the time I was 30 years old. All of these moves were by choice of course; maybe I had become addicted to stress?! Maybe I felt more comfortable being uprooted. Maybe I did not know the difference?
Regardless of my up bringing, at this point in my life I have had enough embodied experiences of my breath moving freely and fully to understand that the simple act of breathing should be a spiritual practice of mine.
So much happens with a single inhale and exhale and it is apparent to me that SO much more could happen if I was devoted to enhancing the process in a deeper, more conscious way.
When I am calm and focused on enriching my inhales and exhales I experience a subtle tingling, an aliveness, of what feels to be my cells grateful for the nourishment. Or maybe it is my soul that I sense, excited that I am witnessing and honoring it. Or maybe it is just the physiological reactions within my body that I am tuning into; is it possible to feel the oxygenation of my body fluids within an exhale?
Regardless, it feels like a very deep, authentic, peaceful, private and innate dance within me and it is incredibly nurturing.
It is as if the whole of me is ignited in a deeply meaningful way, a spiritual way.
There is a Native American belief, that I agree with, that claims the spirit enters the body on a new born baby’s first breath, not at conception or even upon birth, but with the first inhale.
This suggests that a persons spirit resides in the breath.
I could feel a spiritual presence, a reverence of sorts, when I witnessed the birth, and first breath, of my little brother and also with the births/first breaths of my two children. I also experienced the same reverence when I witnessed a cat die, right in front of me.
I know that what I experienced was the spirit entering and leaving upon inhales and exhales. I know that what I was feeling was the subtle yet powerful reverence of life force.
I am not a religious person, at all. That said, I am a very spiritual person and my “god” is Universal Love.
Universal Love, to me, is energetic potential that encourages a persons best self. It is omnipresent and connects every living thing to each other. It is life force and it can be enhanced or diminished. Universal Love becomes a human quality via a persons spirit.
I believe that ones essence, their highest & purest self (their soul), represents the fullest expression of their parents (and therefore their parents and so on) authentic potential as human beings; regardless if it was achieved by them or not. Almost like our soul resides in our DNA or our genetic blueprint. Reproduction becomes a form of reincarnation in my mind.
So, in my belief, we have a body that houses all of our organs and their functions. A soul that is embedded in our ancestral lineage and is super unique and wise, and a spirit that is interwoven with life force, Universal Love, and resides in the breath.
Defining my belief helps me to get serious about the importance of optimal breathing and therefore consider what is keeping me from breathing fully and freely. What is confining my spirit? What is keeping my breath from nourishing the whole of me. What is keeping me from living my life fully ignited?
Pondering all of this becomes a spiritual practice. One that requires dedication, devotion and respect.
Breathing, optimally, more often than not, will certainly provide me with a deeper connection to myself and therefore Universal Love. With Universal Love flowing freely throughout me I will have the sense that I am dancing, swaying, ebbing and flowing, being completely nurtured and nourished from the inside out, constantly.
What a concept to strive for….
So much that is positive for me exists by making breathing a spiritual practice of mine.