As I’ve aged, I have more time for tenderness, for the poems that are so earnest they melt your spine a little. I have decided that I am here in this world to be moved by love and to let myself be moved by beauty. I will defend an earnest poem, I will defend beauty. Life is short, let’s read beautiful things. Cry at the poem you once thought was silly. Let’s give ourselves permission to be less cool and more open to the opportunity of being changed by art.Ada Limon from The Slowdown, episode 696, “Reading Szymborska at Friday Harbor.”
Lately, sparked in part by the embodiment practices we do during writing circles, I’ve been thinking a lot about breath.
Remembering that breath is a need every being on this planet has in common, whether using lungs, gills, leaves or single-celled magic to facilitate the process.
Remembering that we need each other—we feed each other in the most elemental, life-affirming way. Some inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide while others take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
My lungs, your leaves, one breath.
Usually when I think about breathing, I’m focused on the yin/yang rhythms of inhalation/exhalation—the gifting/receiving beauty of exchange. But the more I think about it, the more I recognize that the true kindness of breath is the nourishing it does in the so, so, tiny moments of stillness between being pulled in and pushed out.
Between here and gone— in the tiniest of pauses— you leave essence of you— take essence of me. leave again to return and return and return. Where do I end? Where do you begin? Does it matter?
For me, (and perhaps you?) the last two years have felt like a series of intermittently held breaths.
Shallow gasps painful— with anxious waiting.
My body has known it was time to disrupt this pattern since winter—rib and chest and belly muscles aching to regularly expand with deep, soul-filling breaths. I listened, beginning a meditation practice focusing on my breath somewhere in the dark cold of late February.
The practice, as irregular as it was, shook something loose. The rest of me finally caught on to listening to my wise, wise body this June.
Here, now, on the edge of the Solstice (summer, for me), I’m deepening my devotion to remembering breath. To remembering its innate, nourishing kindness and its fertile, tiny stillnesses.
My body is leading…
Pausing, moving, gently s t r e t c h i n g o p e n bone and muscle structures too long locked.
Followed closely by my creative, noticing self…
A daily devotion. A reverence of words remembering elemental kindness. Remembering interdependence fed by mutuality, fed by infinitely small, infinitely infinite stillness. Remembering. Remembering breath.
I’ll be publishing these “reverences of words” here and in my newsletter every few days through the summer. They will be short, quiet, thoughtful, and easily identifiable, using the title “Remembering Breath.”
Have you found a practice, a devotion, something that nourishes you in these strangely liminal days? I’d love to hear about it!
If not, or if the thought of remembering breath intrigues you (and sharing feels right), I’d love to read your own reverences of words.
You can leave them as comments on the posts here, or, if you’re reading this as an email, reply to me. If you’re posting them in a writing space of your own, share a link with us!
With deep breaths of appreciation for you.
If you’d like to write together this summer…
Saturday Writing Circle (ongoing): In this circle, we write to remember—and to celebrate—our Selves in the face of an off-kilter world. We meet virtually on the 1st and 3rd Saturday every month (except July) from 10 am to 11:30 am New York time. These circles are islands of respite and joyful, kind community.
Listening with Our Bodies: Writing Toward Resilience (July 20 – August 31): Meant for word artists of all kinds— facilitators, coaches, counselors, activists, educators, and explorers—Listening with Our Bodies: Writing Toward Resilience will serve anyone looking to connect more deeply with the source of their creativity and/or the source of their resilience. It will nourish people working to make change in their communities, who have been stretched thin by life, or who are at a crossroads in their personal growth explorations.