To Love to Breathe

Thanks, food.

You know those moments in life that make you really grateful to exist? I am having one such moment.

It’s the kind of thing that makes your bed feel a little bit softer, your food taste a little bit better, your friends and family seem a little bit more invaluable, and yourself feel a little less invincible.

The spark that ignites many of these moments, I’d argue, is death.

I read this incredible story somewhere, and then I lost it, but it goes something like:

A talented writer, published author and voracious reader goes blind after a lifetime of assuming the gift of sight was something she’d always have. In an interview about her plight she said something to this effect:

“You know, I didn’t know I loved reading until someone took it away from me. And isn’t that always the way? What the world needs right now are more people who realize they love to breathe before breath is taken away from them.”

Can I get an amen?

Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing if we appreciated and celebrated our lives before almost losing them or watching someone else those theirs? If we could celebrate simply taking a breath?

Yoga is a practice in learning to love to breathe. Really, it’s a lesson in learning to breathe all together.

By pairing each move with an intentional breath we turn an unconscious physiological response into a deliberate act. It makes us more perceptive, more acutely aware of ourselves. Instead of just going through the motions, we make it count. In the practice, the breath isn’t just along for the ride, it’s steering the whole ship.

I think life is like this, too. It’s easy to run on autopilot, thrilled by nothing but annoyed by everything, trudging through an over-scheduled day without regard for all the little (and big) things we’d miss so terribly were they not there tomorrow.

So maybe we could learn to love to breathe. To celebrate the good before it’s gone. To understand and appreciate that every inhale is a damn miracle.

I was telling Mitch about this today over our cute little three-seater table and my millionth frozen veggie omelet of the year. Our lunchtime conversations are always a bit heavier (but in an uplifting way) during teacher training weekends so she saw my inspirational story and raised me one motivational mantra.

“Yeah! And…” she said excited to throw one my way, “Did you thank your bed today?”

HEH?

“Yeah. I heard about this yoga teacher who thanks her bed every day. Because think about it… Most of us wake up every day pissed that our alarm is going off, that we have to make coffee, that we have to go to work. So she thanks her bed for a good night’s sleep to start her day off right. It sets you up to be gracious instead of anxious.”

Perhaps that’s where we start, then. Being grateful for another day to do what we love, and to love to breathe.

20 thoughts on “To Love to Breathe

  1. I love my bed and Mitch is right, you should thank your bed. I usually tell my bed how great it is when I get in it at night. Truth! (not a loser, just the truth0 : )

  2. I, also, forget to tell my typing fingers thank you, so they make typos…….on purpose. (I corrected no less than 4 typos just in this comment). As Charlie Brown would say, good grief!

    (see comment above for typo)

  3. I find myself really paying attention to my breath lately and it’s awesome. Breathing is something that almost everyone takes for granted because we do it mindlessly, but if we really pay attention to our breathing then it becomes so much more powerful and rich and brings a new level of self-awareness.

  4. Thanks for this post. I try to put a note pad next to my computer in the morning so I start off with gratitude affirmations before getting into my emails and work. Thanking the bed is also a great start to the day and easy to remember since it feels so amazing.

    Friends always seem to know the right thing to say…

  5. Beautiful, insightful post that is once again a reminder of WHY I practice yoga: for the physical and mental benefits it gifts me. You don’t really realize what you have until it’s gone. Thanks for sharing, I needed this today!

    x

  6. Annnnd I’m crying. So thanks for that.

    Overshare of the day (that I’m pretty sure I haven’t already shared): one of my former students, a fifteen year old girl, committed suicide on Easter Sunday. It completely shook my world off balance, and it spun me into this weird, dark, sad tailspin of a ride. I realized a few days later that her death, as awful and devastating as it was, slapped me back into my own reality—especially the hard realization that I don’t appreciate my wonderful life as much as I should. For the last two weeks, I’ve been trying to be as mindful as possible about the good things (and forcing myself to breathe through the bad).

    Thanks for this, Katie. Really.

  7. This was much needed. I feel like I’ve spent the past month on autopilot thanks to school stress, and just life in general, I need to snap out of, survive finals, and start celebrating life more.

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