“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” ~ Pema Chödrön
I am writing this in bed as a sort of bedtime meditation.
I started my bed routine with music and some intentions and then felt a wave of inspiration.
Writing often follows meditation and time in nature. I am a therapist and human who is still working on my own growth and healing. I don’t think that we ever stop.
One of the things I am working on is the long exhale and letting go. I often find myself caught up in holding in the inhale. Perhaps this goes back to my birth for I arrived late, small, and needing extra encouragement to breathe. We all usually do. Life on the outside post-birth is a real learning curve. Being in our bodies and present isn’t always easy.
Self-observation and awareness can be great gifts and insight regarding our patterns. If we notice we are holding, bringing our attention to our body is perhaps the start. We can hold tension and breath. We can even hold back our thoughts and emotions. This is often dissociation. The world can be too much at times and we all have ways of coping. Learning to exhale is a great gift that we can give ourselves. This is the long, slow exhale—the one that lets us surrender and relax, and it is like no other exhalation. It is the breathing bomb.
Years ago as a young mother and fitness instructor I attended a yoga workshop that focused solely on letting go and the breath. We spent two days mostly laying flat and letting our body slowly surrender to the mat. Breath work came next. This session and training was extremely powerful. I became aware of my holding patterns and my resistance to moving forward in life. During these years I held back with resistance and fear. I was caught up in the inhale and in the constant “doing.” My cortisol levels surged. The yoga, belly dance, and walking all various somatic exercises helped but what really helped me was listening in to what my body was telling me.
Fast track 25 years and three grandchildren later, I am still on my journey to find the perfect balance of life, work, and creative projects. The writing and creative work is a gentle exhale daily, and yet I can still find myself holding my breath when deep in thought or work. This can even happen while exercising. I am unconscious and conscious of it happening. I guess learning to exhale has been a lifelong journey.
What helps is constant check-ins and mindful moments with pause and reflection. Slowing down and cutting down on the caffeine has also helped. This is hard and the side hustles all beg for attention. I feel a false sense of calm while constantly doing and pushing myself. I am grateful for family who also remind me to spend time being present and not “doing.” I remind myself that life is precious and each moment needs to be relished.
As the night falls, I grow weary and still my brain wants to write. I know that my body can fall heavy and I can let go with long, slow exhalations. “Go easy,” I say to myself. Today is done now, and it is time to rest. We are a work in progress and we are all learning to exhale. This learning is a lifelong process until our final breath, so there is no rush or worry to get it right. What matters is that we continue to show up for ourselves, each other, and the world.
Softly now, sleep without want or worry and let go for all you have is now, and this bed will hold you in peace as you rest. Yes, the world awaits and tomorrow will come with the glorious sun, reminding you that you are love and loved, dear ones.
Go easy now, go easy on yourself, and let your thoughts float away. Let your breath lift and carry you.