Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breathe through it

I can't believe it's just past eight o'clock and already nearly dark outside. Summer is slipping by so quickly and in just a few weeks we will welcome autumn. After a torrid weekend, today Seattle has reminded us of it's weather preference: clouds and rain. But curiously I'm ready for fall this year. Apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, caramel everything, tall boots, and sweaters have me piqued and anticipating the equinox.

A recent visit with my chiropractor left a profound impact on my spirit. I've mentioned my ups and downs and instability. I'm generally not one who has turned to alternative medicine, but throughout my journey with cancer I've adapted the attitude that it certainly can't hurt, and come to discover that it can certainly provide a type of healing that modern medicine cannot. I've been seeing my chiropractor once or twice a week to help with the debilitating neck pain I've had as a result of muscle spasms from scar tissue. We tried a lot of different modalities of treatment, and now my pain is almost completely resolved. This doctor uses a holistic approach, including applied kinesiology. During one appointment he did a test that revealed a deep psychological link to my neck pain. And he offered me the following advice: to breathe. To allow my emotions and fears to come, and breathe through them, whether they are blissful or unnerving.

He asked me to visualize myself in the happiest place possible, full and radiant and healthy. And then breathe. I closed my eyes and immediately saw myself dancing. I was leaping and pirouetting and jete-ing across a stage, more virile than ever before. But just as easily as that image came, I was suddenly the dying swan - staggering, falling, collapsing. I shook the image from my head. This time came the vision of myself on my wedding day, enrobed in white tulle, full of joy and anticipation on what will be the happiest day of my life. And then seconds later, as I saw myself dancing in my new husband's arms, I was gently fading, shrinking, collapsing into those arms. Breathe in, breathe out. 

I never imagined how hard it would be to hold an image of health and vibrance in my head. The practice of breathing through the difficult stuff is of course not new to me: it is what we practice in yoga. Every movement is about controlled breathing, controlled thought, and focus. When we are in an uncomfortable pose we breathe through it. We use that pose to learn how to get through the discomfort, to find the good in every moment. And we use our breath to help us through. 

So though it may seem like rather simple advice, I've found it a great help to me. When I feel a dark thought or fear creep into my mind, I let it be there, and I breathe through it, and get comfortable in it, and find serenity in that moment. And in no time at all it's gone, and the next joyful hope is upon me. And I breathe through it, too.

Don't forget to breathe.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.....my therapist said to breath deeply every 5 minutes. I'm getting a tattoo on the underside ofmy right wrist that says simply "breathe". I wanted it before my surgery on September 9th but think I will wait until I'm healed. Thanks for breathing every day.