May 30, 2020

Breathing is our Right. Let’s take Responsibility for It.

Read this: Who is Derek M. Chauvin? 

And the beautifully and powerfully written: “Well. My city is burning.” 

What if we breathed for those who cannot?

Sometimes I see runners racing for their paralyzed friend. Sometimes I see loved ones of cancer patients shave their heads out of a sense of togetherness. It nearly always moves me to tears.

Take a deep breath right now. Just do it. Breathe in easily through your nose. Hold it at the top for a moment and release your breath completely through the mouth. Hold once again and start all over.

Do you feel privileged? Do you feel grateful for how easy that life-sustaining action is? Not only do we need our breath to live, but it’s also the emotional regulation system that should be taught in every home and facility. Why? It promotes our better self to come forward to take the next action in response to a stimulus.

Our world needs to breathe. What if we all took a collective deep breath? We can breathe for those whose respiratory systems have been affected by COVID-19 or any other respiratory condition. We can breathe for George Floyd, who was fatally denied his right to breathe. We can breathe for our better selves.

We all have a responsibility to manage our emotions in the face of intensity so as not to cause harm. A majority of the time, we can afford the pause it would take to lower the levels of adrenaline and switch from a reactive place in our brain to a responsive place. We can switch to a place that is more evolved, more empathetic, and more thoughtful of the bigger picture.

We are human. We are all in the same basket of humanity.

We do not rise by pulling others down, but by helping others up. We do not rise by claiming social media likes, but by spreading beauty, kindness, and inspiration. We do not rise by suppressing others or ourselves, but by encouraging each to be at their best, by giving space when they are not so that they can return to their better self.

Intentionally breathing to maintain thoughtful actions at critical moments can make or break important decisions, relationships, and really any event.

The ripple is real. If we stayed mindfully present and in our breath throughout the day, consider the changes you would start to see. How many times have you forgotten why you walked into a room? How many times have you unintentionally harmed someone out of thoughtless behavior? How many times have you stayed on edge for an entire day based on anxiety about a future that hasn’t even happened yet?

The human breath has had a lot of attention lately. We were given this life-giving tool. Obviously, it keeps us alive. Survival. However, surviving is not thriving. We have the will to leverage our breath to think more clearly, behave more humanely, and, therefore, make the world a kinder place.

Sometimes I hear people say, “I would pay so much for a magic pill that would give me less anxiety and clearer thinking.” Hello, breathe!

Let’s step it up. Let’s take responsibility for our behavior and learn to regulate ourselves with what we already have.

The first thing a healthy baby does when it is born is take a breath. It’s the last thing we do when we die. Have we been taking it for granted?

I encourage you to start taking responsibility for your breathing by following along with this square breathing meditation made for kids. If we teach our youth to do it, we can do it, too:


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