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Honoring Breath

I don’t remember my first breath.

I remember the first time I struggled to breathe. I was eight years old. My family was living abroad that year and we were at a public pool. I was playing with a girl I had just met and she wanted to show me a cool trick. She asked me to trust her. I did. She asked me to float on my back and close my eyes. I did. Then I felt her push me down and suddenly I was underwater. Quickly. Uncomfortably. Unable to get my bearings. I swallowed water and for a moment I thought I’d never be able to draw a breath.

Years later, I marveled watching my children draw their first breath. My first child was wrapped up in her umbilical cord and as they worked to release it, I held my breath. The doctor kept reminding me to breathe. When she finally came out, perfect and healthy, she wailed the breath of someone releasing energy into the universe for the first time. I wailed with her.

I’ve stayed up nights working with my children on their breath. Sitting in the cool midnight air with one child trying to slow breaths during an attack of croup. Telling her to slow it down. Finding a rhythm that brought her back to me from the scary panic and the loud barking voice invading her breath. My other daughter has asthma. I’ve watched her try to find a breath that won’t flow and catches just out of reach. I use my own breath as a guide. Follow my breath. Keep my flow.

I don’t take breath lightly. I know the power it holds. Breathing through contractions eases the pain. Breathing through a difficult workout allows me to come back to my center and push through energy I didn’t know existed. When I’m the only one awake at night and I hear a noise, only my breath exists to calm my nerves and bring me back into rational thought.

Think about your own relationship with breath. How often do you think about breath? When was the last time you honored it? Take the time to breathe with purpose, inhaling deeply into the forgotten spaces of your body and exhaling gratitude.

Our breath calms. It sustains. It enriches. It connects. It cycles in and out of our body, weaving us into all we come in contact with, drawing us all together in a constant flow.

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