I am amazed at how complicated I often make life, and how long it has taken me to understand the simplest things. The breath. In and out. An anchor to right here, right now. In and out. Receiving and surrendering. A tool that is always with me. It is as if it is too good to be true and I lack the courage to believe.
When I first began this yoga journey, my teachers spoke of an “intelligent yoga practice.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. They spoke of the practice and the breath as a mirror of our personality and action within daily life. If your breath was shallow and weak it may be a lack of confidence; while a strong inhalation with jagged cycles of holding the breath may imply anger and restlessness.
Yes, guilty of all of the above. I’d take a pass on looking into that mirror. I did not need that added to the “things Alice needs to FIX!” plate. Do any of us need more things to fix? It just felt like another judgment.
Somewhere along the way, the breath kept nudging me, in a soft kitten nose kind of way. I softened and started noticing glimpses of what was working, what was beautiful, around me. I spent more time outside and saw beautiful patterns and colors. When I would stop, and notice, I would breathe and discover tiny pockets of peace. While the world could feel as if it were falling apart, this was happening at the same time. I could choose to see and be with this too.
Perhaps there is a better metaphor than the breath as a mirror? What if in the moments when confidence waned, anger bubbled up or the tidal waves of fear threatened, the imperfect, uneven breath, was an invitation? A tiny envelope with my name in delicate script letters. An invitation to slow down, notice what was around me, receive and surrender.
I carefully tried that, saying yes to that invitation. Not using the breath to push the reality of the fear or lack of confidence away but to be open to letting the jagged breath tear open more room for the beauty and peace. I want to pass on that invitation to you today. It is simple. Breath in and breath out. Look around you. Find what is working, and beautiful. Let that in too.
Will you accept the invitation?