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March 3, 2019

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Breathing isn't Always Easy

June 12, 2018

I used to think it was, or should've been. When I was little I found out you could reduce pain by taking deep breaths. I thought I was so cool the first time I used this newly-gained knowledge. I was skating and I fell and instead of screaming and crying embarrassingly loud, I concentrated and took deep breaths until the pain was manageable again. 

BAM! Just like that I was a master of controlling my internal systems of pain management-- not really, but I thought I was. Never mind the obvious signs that I wasn't in control of even my breath. Signs like the fact that I had asthma and would be wheezing/ crying every time I played soccer-- especially in the cold; or that I would pass out whenever I saw something that looked painful; or yawn all day in class because panic attacks reduced my oxygen intake and triggered that response to keep my brain functioning (I later learned the purpose of yawning).  Nope. I was an expert because I knew to take a deep breath after I got hurt. 


Perception is funny when you think about it. I did actually get better at controlling my breathing-- just not as much better as I thought. I practiced inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth to help with running; I knew to take deep, calm breaths before I got a shot (or did something I expected to be painful).  Then I started to practice yoga and tai chi and I realized--- breathing is hard. 


We all take in air naturally, but to actually use that breath is a challenge. It's a good challenge. One that is probably worth working towards, but still a challenge. There are probably a lot of metaphors that can be taken from that. There are probably thousands in existence already. I'm not going to add to them. I just wanted to share some of my shock with you when I found out that some movements and activities I'd always assumed were "too easy" are actually incredibly difficult.


As I sit trying to take specific types of breath, for instance (the names of which I've already forgotten)

I suddenly find that I want to quit because it's too damn hard. I have to laugh at my preconceptions about what is "easy" and what is "hard". Then I have remind myself that it never will become easy if I give up. 


Humility: I guess now is a good time for me to learn some. :) 


Thanks for reading. Hopefully we can share in the laughter of realizing that there is so much more to everything-- simple and complex-- and the joy of learning how little we know.  


Have a great day. Breathe. 


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