Everyone in the world has spent a lot of time recently focused on it. How to protect it with masks and ventilators. How to preserve it with medications and treatments. In ways that are more savage than other illnesses of recent memory, COVID-19 seeks to rob us of it. Both literally, for those patients who are ill; and figuratively, for the rest of society as a whole.
I met recently with my dearest friends to discuss and process what we have all experienced in recent weeks. We talked about a lot, which makes sense because we've all experienced things that are foreign and frightening, and that makes for a lot of subject matter. But what fascinated me and what I hope resonates with you, is that we all felt a collective need to exhale. To breathe. That reconnecting with each other somehow gave us permission to let go of the breath we had each been holding for the last several weeks. Have you ever held your breath for a very long time? After a while, it hurts. And there are complicated medical reasons why it hurts but those are not important. When you come up from being under water and you can exhale fully and inhale again it feels amazing. It feels life giving...because it is.
I have spent much of the last several weeks focused on the idea of breath. It has been in my work, of course. But what was interesting to me it that it has been in my thoughts and my prayer life as well. Many years ago, I learned a simple breath exercise that I have employed almost subconsciously since then. It has to do with simply focusing on your breath as it enters and leaves your lungs and then setting an intention for each inhale and exhale. It goes something like this:
Breathe in Peace and Breathe out Worry
Breathe in Calm and Breathe out Fear
Breathe in Light and Breathe out Darkness
Breathe in Energy and Breathe out Pain
Breathe in Connection and Breathe out Loneliness
Breathe in Unity and Breathe out Hatred
Using the power of our mind and our breath to change our emotions. It has been a go to technique for me for many years when I'm feeling overwhelmed with big things, but especially during this time. Coronavirus is not over, by any means, but we are navigating our way through what will be our new normal, and we are doing it together. I invite you to join me as we all start to breathe a little more deeply together.