Sometimes I forget to breathe.
Not the kind of breathing you need to, well, stay alive (thankfully your body tends to safeguard against that)… but the kind of breathing you need to really LIVE. And dude: breathing correctly is important! Dr Andrew Weil, author of Eight Weeks to Optimum Health – as well as a million other natural health books – says that changing the way you breathe is the single most important change that most adults can make for better health; even before diet and exercise. When I started physical therapy for my shoulder recently, the entire first 90 minute session centered on breathing. And whenever the kids are hurt, or scared, or flipping out in one way or another, it’s the first thing I’ll tell them. Breathe.
Any time I’ve ever had a remotely positive reaction during a stressful situation as a parent, a spouse, or a friend… it’s been born of taking a moment to just breathe. I know this. I know this. And yet sometimes, I still forget. Yoga has been extremely helpful in that regard (as soon as you stop intentionally breathing, you stop doing yoga), as has 38 years of practice. Still, reminders are always a good thing.
Which is why, when I was in San Diego for the Wide Sky Days conference and my dear friend asked, “Want to come get a tattoo with me?” I was elated to finally get this:
So, why was this word so important that I chose to get it permanently etched on my body?
Because breathing is the first answer to all of life’s problems, both large and small. I’m not kidding. All of them. And the older I get, the more true it is.
Your 3 year old just destroyed your $600 camera? Breathe.
Your fridge breaks, you lose a transmission, and your roof leaks all in the same week? Breathe.
You’re stuck in traffic and you’re already 15 minutes late? Breathe.
There’s too much month left at the end of the paycheck? Breathe.
You’ve just read your 87th mean-spirited political diatribe on your Facebook feed? Breathe.
You’re faced with scary news, a bad diagnosis, a new situation, or an uncomfortable moment? Breathe.
It’s 3 in the morning and you’re up with insomnia for the 63rd night in a row? Breathe.
It’s two weeks before Halloween and all the good costumes are taken? Breathe.
I can’t think of a situation that wasn’t immediately and immensely helped by my telling myself, “Self, this is one of those times when you’re supposed to breathe.” I think I must have learned to project an aura of calm pretty well, because people usually think I’m laid back. But my brain is always going a mile a minute, certain things tend to make me freak out easily, and while I’m outwardly saying, “It’s all good,” inside I’m all “Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh!”, complete with the full-on Muppet flail.
Unless I remember to breathe.
Breathing brings me back. Back to the person I want to be, and back to the mom I want to be. And while I’m reasonably sure that with time and with practice I would remember that, tattoo or no tattoo, I am so infinitely glad it’s there to remind me.