Rhythm of the breath

Several days ago I had a really moving experience in savasana during a yoga class where I ended up being the only student. The feeling that washed over me was the luxurious joy of getting to be with my breath for the entire class mixed with a strange relief that I didn’t have to “worry” about how my breath seems so out of pace with the rest of class. And that’s when it hit me, the psychological impact of me “worrying” about my breath over the last several weeks.

It sounds so absurd now, but it really did weigh on me how much I couldn’t keep pace with the dominant rhythm of breath in class. At first it was just this neutral observation I made, like “Hm, everyone’s on their third breath and I’m still on my first exhale.” But as time wore on, I started attaching strange meaning to this situation, and it started to symbolize to me how out of pace I’ve long felt with the world, most acutely in the last few years.

I didn’t want to quicken my breath to “catch up” to everyone else, because that simply did not feel good in my body. Yet I could not fully enjoy my breath because of the tape my mind was playing that kept telling me the lie that I am out of step.

When I am alone, breathing at my own pace, it is paradise. I actually do spend a lot of time each day just being with my breath, playing with it, thinking about it, feeling it. It is one of my greatest teachers.

I lived in NYC when I was rediscovering my breath, and I took every opportunity to connect, even on the train and other public places. I breathed with such intention that it would sometimes attract attention. At a dinner party someone turned to me and asked, “Are you breathing??” as if it were some remarkable, exotic activity. And at a conference someone asked me if I could recommend a breath coach because they noticed how steadily I was breathing. (I don’t have a breath coach or follow any one method. My breath is my coach just as your breath is yours.)

When I hold space for others, especially in groups, I prompt them with intentions, things to feel into or become aware of, but I never count rhythm. I let people breathe in a lot of silence, at their own pace.

I think what brought me to tears during that solo savasana was the feeling that within certain structures not of my own making, I am simply going to be “out of pace.” There is a certain sadness there along with the very strong conviction that there is nothing more important for all of us to do than to find our own breath, to move through life at our own rhythm.
I‘m convinced one of the greatest barriers to people embracing the idea of marching to the beat of their own drum is not any lack of skill or resources, but the fear that they will be left behind (or out in left field) doing their own weird thing.

How I stay true to my own rhythm while being in community is a particularly creative tension point in my life. If I have no external obligations I live in blissful ignorance of time. I keep an eye on a calendar just so I can coordinate with people, but “weekdays” and “weekends” feel the same to me because my time is entirely my own. I do my best not to give it over to any false obligations of my own making. This is one of the lessons I learned from my breath, so it is funny that this lesson now needs to be reseeded back into the breath, like a serpent eating its own tail.

Here is a gentle reminder to be with your breath, right here, right now. Here is your connection to heaven and earth and All That Is. Here is peace. Here is love. Here is abundance. Here is radical equality with all. Here is total freedom. Here is who you truly are.

You do not need a special technique. With keen intention, gentle focus, and a stout heart, your breath will naturally and easily connect you to your Brilliant System, and over time your life will begin to change and unfold in ways that will fill you with awe.

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