My breath has been taken away by the long anticipated kiss and by the excruciatingly true critique of my work. It evaporated both at the realization of betrayal by a lover and at my first sight of Lake Cuomo as the train rounded the bend in the Italian Alps. Despite leaving me on occasion, I appreciate that my ability to breathe deeply has been a loyal friend.
Roland Heinrichs was my first formal teacher of breathing. The South High choir director hailed the diaphragm as the source of all sounds beautiful. My singing never landed me a solo, so I was an eager student. Breathing improved my performance.
Many teachers followed. The yoga instructor for that one credit hour class I needed for graduation. The nurse who encouraged me until the moment of surrender to a Cesarean section. The Unity minister at Sunday morning meditation. “Breathe, breathe,” they coached.
Breathing deeply became my constant companion for courtroom calm. During the drive to the courthouse, as the elevator slowly rose up the floors, and when I needed to slow my furious heart about to rip a hole through my suit jacket in moments of perceived judicial injustice. Breathing centered me.
When I gave my husband John’s eulogy it was not my first, but it was breathing that made it possible for me to attempt to honor the beloved man who died beside me in bed after twenty years of loving him. I was saved by seeing “(BREATHE)” typed 16 times to remind me. Breathing brings courage.
My breathing often comes in the form of a sigh after a good cry or a truthful admission written in my journal. It reminds me that I have released and let go of an energy that I no longer need to hold on to. Breathing helps to let go.
The slow inhaling and exhaling of air calms the muscles in my body and quiets my non-stop mind so well that I can fall asleep at night or occasionally induce a much needed mid-day nap in a matter of minutes. Breathing helps me relax and rest.
When I focus on the air moving in and out of my lungs, I am not fretting about yesterday or obsessing about tomorrow. I am less in my fear. I am right now. Breathing brings me present.
Divorce is a time when resources are stretched. Time, money and physical energy are at a premium. This makes breathing particularly precious. It requires no equipment. It can be done anywhere and anytime without anyone knowing it. Breathing is free and everyone can do it.
On the path of divorce, sometimes we are unsure if we can make it through another day. But we wake up and notice that our lungs are somehow still miraculously moving oxygen. Breathing keeps us alive. Breathing sustains us.