November 26, 2013

All it Takes is a Deep Breath. {Photos}


Recently I was asked to use one word to describe my photographs. With little hesitation, two words “a reminder” came flowing through.

Beyond any financial compensation, if from time to time an image of mine prompts a pause in the viewer and somehow reminds them of this precious and fleeting life, that would be my royalty. I cannot think of a greater reward than reminding someone of the authentic life that is always available.

The same goes for my work as a yoga instructor.

A year or so ago I was on the receiving end of some frightening news from a friend as she shared her diagnosis of breast cancer.  After twenty years of tried and true friendship here we were standing at similar junctures in life—healthy as can be at 47 years of age, each with two teenage children and a lot of living left to do. Then suddenly, as cancer does…wham!

Why her, I immediately wondered? As she plotted out her treatment and began to absorb and share with me how the next six months of her life would likely unfold I found myself searching my soul as to how I might somehow walk in her shoes during this ordeal. Six months is a long chapter.

There was within me this deep calling to root, really root for this life-long friend of mine beyond pitching in with the obvious childcare and household help.

Rather naturally, I turned to the thing I know best…words and images.

Many of the great teachings suggest that, “Where attention goes, energy flows.”

It’s a lesson I wholeheartedly subscribe to and one I personally need to be reminded of on a daily basis. In blending my collection of photographs with insights from the library of teachings which inform my yoga studies, I sensed a potential to support my friend in her recovery through visually employing this golden rule. Thus, the Daily Inhale was hatched.

A slow release pulse of energy delivered online each and every morning, the intention was to simply prompt a pause in which my friend might incline her attention towards some merrier (or mightier) direction. She could take it or leave it, but most days she took it.

Simple in nature and fairly effortless to consume I do believe the Daily Inhale kept her (at least) some company while fielding the unexpected curve ball she was tossed. My friend is now cancer free, and she shares her personal experience.

In his recent New York Times feature on mindfulness, David Hochman unpacked the growing “hunger to get centered” particularly among the “architects of our electronic age.”  In doing so, he gave equal weight to the increasing demand to taste such bliss in an abbreviated fashion.

My experience as I move through life these days is that this two-fold hunger Hochman spoke of trends well beyond the Silicon Valley. Some 297 days since its launch, the Daily Inhale lives on. With little fanfare, kindred spirits from all walks have quietly stumbled upon, consumed and even shared some portion(s) of the collection that have spoken to them.

I am deeply humbled. Perhaps it is because the Daily Inhale asks for nothing more than one deep breath?  No great time commitment here. To inhale and to exhale…and to pay some attention while doing so. No agenda. No code to be cracked. No scorecard to keep.

Just a moment to get quiet and re-calculate the compass. That’s all it asks…

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Editor: Paige Vignola/Bryonie Wise

{Images courtesy of the author}

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