Wednesday, May 16, 2007

just breathe.


Last night, at my appointment, I learned how to breathe again.

Apparently, I've been breathing wrong most of my adult life. She had me put my hand on my chest and the other on my stomach and take a slow deep breath and she asked, "Which one goes up? Your right or your left?" The hand on my chest, that rose and fell.

And she told me a story, took me on an imaginative journey:

It is hundreds of years ago and we are in town. I am living off the land and my job today is to bring fresh water from the Mississippi to my village. The water is fresh, not as polluted as it is now, and I carry it in gourds. Everything is peaceful and life is good and suddenly a bobcat crosses my path. (She makes a grimace, using fingers for pointy ears, as if she is the offending feline.) What do I do: run or fight? Being the coward that I am, I run, and I say, "Probably unsuccessfully, but I run." So I take shallow breaths and my adrenaline rises and I am able to run. And I make it and get back to the village and my breathing slows and they ask me--what happened? So I calm in telling my story of the bobcat and my deep breaths return to regular patterning. And the villagers tell me to rest, so I go to rest, but then--there is a snake! Again, fight or flight? And I must seem to be nervous about my answer, must seem like I'm guessing because she laughs reassuringly and says, "Only one person suggested they would fight a snake." And she says, "Let's make this a modern story instead." She tells me the story of a student who has forgotten his paper and is in trouble in English (but there is no where to run) and she tells me of the same student who discovers he is unprepared for a pop quiz (but there is no where to run) and it goes on, building and building. And she draws these little steps for the student, these peaks without valleys, and tells me, "I am going to show you how to breathe so that you can get it to here when you can't run." Our bodies were built for fighting and flying, but we no longer are in a situation where that is a daily occurrence. Look at babies, look at animals--looking at where they breathe from.

She had me put my hand on my stomach and said, "Now, I warn you, you're going to feel silly and look all puffed up in the belly, but if you're OK with that, it's going to do wonders." And I breathed in through the stomach (I kept thinking of choir teachers saying, 'Breathe from the diaphragm!' Is this the same thing?) and it felt good. Calming.

She also recommended I look into yoga classes, which is something I believe I will do.


I came home today and took a long nap and when K got home, he asked me if Zephyr had eaten. I was bewildered, thought it was morning and I was late for teaching, angry that he'd let me sleep so long. But it was my nap I was late for, and though I'll struggle falling asleep tonight, but I think it was worth it. Once in a while, you just must indulge.

Zephyr has come home with a cone on his head, his boyhood taken. He's pretty good natured about it, in fact returning to his bowling ball status with more vigor now that he has more surface area around the head. He's been swiping CDs and unopened mail onto the floor with glee, reminding us just how easy it is to undo any cleaning we work our way through in an afternoon, terrorizing the cats along the way.

Some happy things:

Chris and I are getting closer to figuring out when we'll be out to North Carolina. As soon as we have the Nikki stamp of approval, we'll book the flights, and I'll ink it into my newly found planner. ("Is it in your luggage?" K asks, and surely, there it is, tucked beneath my old-lady bag, as he calls it, still waiting for me to rescue it from amidst dirty stockings from Boston.) I think we'll have to have a layover with this flight simply because the flights from our big city to her big city are not as frequent, so Atlanta and Chicago might be glimpsed at, especially if it saves us $100 each.

And lastly, as many know, we have a big wedding party. But we still have many beloved friends, and one has just agreed to be an usher. This is my truest friend from my undergraduate days, Jesse, who has a beautiful family and a lovely son of his own. He married his wife in what I can only imagine as a romantic ceremony in Monterey, though this was during the period of time when we briefly lost touch, and now I'm so glad to have the company of his letters (and his wife's) as often as they can. We met in an honors studies in narrative course and would drink coffee at the Purple Onion together, did projects together in a geohazards class, and ate good pizza. He wrote poetry too, lovely poems to wrap your heart around. I'm not sure how much writing he does now; I think he's simply trying to get back into the pace of daily life now that his stint in Iraq is through and he can be with the family he is growing.


Oh, and we only get one station in our household and haven't seen fit to purchase cable just yet, so by way of television, we don't have many options. And I watched the first episode of American Idol tonight, or at least, the first part of it, and I have to admit, I am taken by Melinda Doolittle's voice.

1 comment:

bluerose9062 said...

The photos of your pets are very expressive. Zephyr doesn't seem very happy about his cone :]. I used to have a Lab. He lived 16 yrs.. I miss him.

Your discussion about breathing was interesting. As a personal trainer, I'm always having to teach people how to breath. Most people suck their stomach in when they inhale which restricts lung capacity.

Thanks for your comments.