My dog Daisy is a master of the art of breathing. If ancient yogis could time travel to 2018 and spend a morning in my living room watching her breathe, I believe that they would nod in approval. Her whole body breathes. When she sighs, it animates her nose to her tail. I’ve been spending lots of time studying near my Daisy and watching her breathe when I’ve grown overwhelmed. I feel like I am literally learning a new language as I study speech language pathology. In just three weeks, I have expanded my lexicon with over a hundred new technical terms related to neuroanatomy and language development. I’ve realized that it’s important to do a little studying every day, and then to put the computer down and breathe.
In preparation for sharing this month’s meditation, which involves guided breath awareness cues, I picked up Donna Farhi’s classic. “The Breathing Book.” In it, she writes:
“The paradox of free breathing is that it is a result of deep relaxation, not of effort. Trying hard through pushing and striving does not help us open to the breath.”
This is a great piece of advice for anyone meditating on their breath. But, this passage hits home on the heels of my decision to go back to school for what could be a 3-4 year process altogether.
A few days ago, I was told that the Year of the Earth Dog (which started on February 16th this Chinese New Year) would be a year of good fortune arriving with less effort. That same prediction was qualified by this advice - be patient, because putting forth less effort will depend upon your ability to trust in right timing. Donna Farhi’s passage and the Earth Dog Year advice just seem to be saying, “Take it one day at a time right now. Enjoy the looooooonnnngggg ride ahead.”
When Donna Farhi talks about breathing, she often uses the phrase “let the breath move you.” Our bodies have minds of their own. I love that actually. I love that when my mind (side note: I could go into which lobes of the brain are related to what we think of as our mind, but that’s a long bunny trail) feels like it has to understand everything right now, I have a balancing point to that perception. That balancing point is found in the simple rhythms of my body. These rhythms remind me that every process - growth, understanding, healing - comes in its own time. A deep breath is given as much as taken.
As you move into what comes next, enjoy the simple yet, incredible breaths within your body. Or watch a dog breathe.
I’ll be delving deeply into the incredible intelligence of our bodies in my final 30-Hour Ayurveda Immersion (early bird registration ends March 1, 2018) and in an upcoming 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training (details here) later this year. May you continue to delve deeply as well.
Hannah has been a student of yoga and meditation since 2003 and a practitioner of Ayurveda since 2013. She spent a decade teaching yoga classes and yoga teacher trainings throughout the metro-DC area. In August of 2019, she left full-time teaching to pursue a two-year Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She intends to combine yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda into speech therapy sessions with those struggling to share their voices. While she does not currently teach regular classes, you can study with her online through Insight Timer.