Still Breathing

Sometimes that’s the best we can say. That after all that we’ve been through, stared down, raged against, been forced to accept, fought off, learned, and healed, we’re still breathing. Still alive. Still here.

Some of us get defiant. “Is that the best you’ve got? I thought this was going to be a challenge!”

Some of us get beaten down. “Oh please, not anything else. Just let me be for a while. Let me have some peace for a change.”

Some of us retreat into a shell. Check out mentally and emotionally. Let anything else that comes up flow around and over us without our conscious acknowledgment.

I’ve done all of those.

Right now, though, I’m just trying to breathe. Breathe and know that whatever the next wave brings, I’ll breathe through that, too. And the next one. And the next.

When I’m talking to my guides, they routinely have to remind me to breathe. It’s not that I stop breathing when it comes to shock, heavy realizations, and soul-shaking revelations. It’s that I’m so focused on what’s happening that my breathing becomes only physical. At that point, my breathing only serves to keep me upright, rather than helping me to process whatever it is I’m dealing with.

I don’t have anything physically wrong with me that’s stopping me from breathing. What’s stopping me is mental and emotional. There is so much going on in those areas that my physical health is affected. My breathing gets suppressed to a level that’s just enough to function. It becomes unconscious.

Let me take a second to define the words “conscious” and “unconscious.” If you Google the word “conscious,” you get three definitions, all of them adjectives, that include the words “awake,” “aware,” and “painfully aware or sensitive to.” If you Google the word “unconscious” you get two definitions. The first is an adjective and is simply “not conscious.” The second is a noun, and it refers to the part of the mind that the conscious mind cannot access.

When I say that my breathing became unconscious, I mean to say that I was no longer aware of it. When I have to consciously remind myself to breathe, that means I have to knowingly be aware of my breathing. I have to think about it.

Everything starts with the breath. Breathe deeply, ground, center. Once I’ve centered, I can think about and deal with those mental and emotional challenges.

It’s something so fundamental, so basic. We die if we don’t breathe. Yet like so many other important things, it can get lost in the depths of emotional and/or mental crisis.

I wonder if this is how we lose parts of ourselves. In the midst of stress, we can lose our sense of wonder, our sense of humor, even our sense of self. I did. All of them, at various points. I’ve gotten them back, too. All of them.

How? Well, here’s the short version: I consciously focused on them. I thought about them. I knowingly chose to make them a routine, everyday part of my life again. After a while, that choice became habit. After a while longer, that habit became second nature.

Now I’m consciously focused on breathing. After a while, that choice will become habit. After a while longer, that habit will become second nature.

I’m still here. Still alive. Whatever the next wave brings, whenever it arrives, I’ll still be consciously, knowingly breathing.

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