Prompts : breathe and reach, breathe out and release
I need to breathe. Slowly. Drawing the breath into my body until the oxygen of life has filled me to overflowing. Breathe…2 . 3, 4, 5, 6, . my daughter counts for me as I drive her to a drama class. She knows that I need to breathe. Slowly. Steadily. Holding the breath … 2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Allowing my body to feel full and my mind to feel light. Exhale… ,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Slowly releasing the air; it passes audibly through my mouth and although departing has replenished me before leaving.
And again. I ask her to count again. I know that I need that slow intake. The conscious drawing in of nourishment and calm and all that is vital. I can’t see what I breathe ; so much of my life is spent taking it for granted and gasping at it as I rush around focused on the externals which crowd my days and fill my head. Why ? Why would I do that when I know its power, its essential nature, its gift to me ?
By the time we arrive a few minutes later I have taken 4 or 5 of these deep, slow breaths. I have been changed by them. The frustrated, tired, overwhelmed woman has become a woman facing the same circumstances but they no longer feel crushing, nor are they making her angry or agitated. Why have the breaths changed her? It can’t be simply a physical change related to the taking in of oxygen as that is her experience always, whether conscious or not.
As I think of this (and I realise that as I write about breath I am breathing slowly and deeply and I feel light and calm), I see the connection with muse. As I understand it a muse is something or someone who inspires creativity. All week I’ve been encouraged to ‘find my muse’. Do I have one?
Yes. Breath is my muse.
Slow, conscious, drawing in of all that is nourishing and calm and vital. Sometimes it is literal breaths of air. Sometimes I breathe sunshine and sky and hills. When I see the sea I become almost desperate in my need to breathe. That breath leaves me full only when I have actually immersed my body in the water. At that moment I know that I am being replenished with all that I need for life. I live far from the sea so I go to breathe at a swimming pool several times a week. At other times I need to breathe music, words, poetry, art. The breathing in of people and love and community is harder but when I take it slowly and stay, it becomes integral to my being. I breathe God. In all of those things. In his words. In his people. In his creativity. In his love.
I realise now that the times when life feels fraught and unsatisfying it is because all my breaths are snatched or gasping. I try to fit them in amid the rush of everyday essentials. I snatch breaths of words, or friends, or beauty and I don’t breathe slowly and deeply.
Breath which draws the oxygen of life into my body and fills me to overflowing.
Breath is my muse.