In this New Year, may you hold the people you love closely, and let the spaces between you be filled with acceptance.
It’s funny how things work. I heard the choir at the local Unitarian Universalist church sing a poem by the Senegalese poet, Birago Diop called “Breaths.” The refrain is, “Listen more often to things than to beings. The voice of the water, the fire’s voice”
Soon after, I was lying in bed next to my female cat. She loves it when I spend time with her and her alone. Our boy cat has had such health problems lately that he has been the center of our attention.
But when I can, I lie next to Lyrrie in bed and she loves it. Today, as I snuggled with her and felt the warmth of her fur and steady beat of her heart, she put her face next to mine and breathed on me.
It was a series of sweet, gentle breezes, more like whispers of breath… like souls or spirit in motion.
I was for a second or two transfixed. I felt blessed.
In that moment, I thought back to the Senegalese poem, and thought to myself, does it have to be “things” over “beings”? Can we experience the divine listening to the breaths of everything?
There are so many things said about breath and breathing.
We’re told it’s critical in meditation. And in Vedantic and Hindu thought, Pranyama is the breath of life’s force; life’s vital energy and a powerful connector to the universe.
But for me, it was my cat’s sweet and subtle breath that carried with it the intimations of the divine.
I wondered how it would be if we felt all the sense of breaths around us.
The breaths of those we love perhaps lying next to us.
Maybe the breath of the ocean, its sighs and huffs as she pushes and pulls the waves all over the world.
Perhaps the panting breaths of a dog playing in the park.
And the baby’s breath. Uncorrupted by fear or anxiety. Sweet, trusting and soft; full of promise and gratitude.
I image all kinds of breaths.
Breaths of tall proud oaks and slender birches.
Breaths of birds in flight.
I think we should have a quiet Breath Day or hour or even 15 minutes when we hear the beauty of our own breaths and those we love.
May you know the deep joy of being touched by the breath of a beloved of any kind.
May it clarify your thoughts and help you to believe in yourself more.
May it guide you to becoming more loving and better at what you do and whom you serve.
May it help you be how you wish to be in the world.
Speaking of “breath,” and breathing, one of the ways I see relationships reclaim themselves is by breathing new life into them.
I recently attended a Harvard University conference on couples and one of the messages that stuck with me was: “Don’t try to fix the partners. Fix the patterns.”
At it’s simplest, when partners fight, quarrel or disagree, it’s usually over the same thing.
And it’s tempting to think one or the other of the partners is to blame for the impasse.
In truth, the problem is the repetition of the disagreement, the pattern that occurs and reoccurs.
See if you can slow down enough to focus on your own breath, so that it gives you the space to isolate the pattern, look at it and step back from it. Focus on the ways you can disengage from the pattern, not the partner.
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