Learning to Breathe Again

When did you lose the natural way
The way that was given to you at birth
Of breathing peacefully
Without the need for self-attendance?

Our release from the trauma
During this humbling pandemic,
From the loneliness imposed
By spending too much time with our thoughts
And the distress
Of keeping a safe distance from the world,
Will begin by learning to breathe again

Ask yourself,
What comes into you when you inhale
And the world is drawn into your body?
You know that the plants and trees
Are already live inside you.
What molecules of other life forms
That may have traveled on the winds
From a distant location
Or across a vast expanse of time
Have become you?

What do you send outward
Into the world when you exhale
And give something of yourself to the atmosphere?
The birds overhead may learn something about you.
The cloud drifting by may feel your presence.
And the river will take you to the precise location
Where your recovery begins.

As a child, you were taught to name things
And in learning to name them
You separated yourself from them,
Forgot their beauty
And their companionship,
You exiled your gift of astonishment:
Over there – a pond
There a rock
A flower
And in the distance a mountain.
But do you honor them with awe
And gratitude?

Can you feel the breath of nature
Moving through you?
There is a pause between each breath
When awareness becomes possible again,
And the possibility of relief exists
Outside the incessant whine of your anxieties,
Beyond all your worries about the future
That you can neither control nor avoid,
Where even the trees speak of the sacred
In whispered tones

An invitation to reclaim the mystery of being
As your very own.
The expert will tell you
To practice breathing like this
Or like that
Offering fragile assurance of finding relief from the mind
That haunts you
Soothing your nervous system
Softening your depression
But you always return to the same life
Far away from the narrow silos the experts reside in
And hide in.
You always return to where the trouble began
Back into the familiar frustrations
Of living a life you never planned to live
Forgetting that a river can be your most trusted advisor.

Spirit is the breath of life.
Learning to breathe again
Is more than mastering the skill of this, that,
Or the other.
Renew your conversation with Nature,
Of inhabiting something greater than yourself,
And the wonder of a living, breathing planet.
You are a child of Nature
As were your mother and father
We are all offspring of unfathomable creative energy
Moving through all of us all at once
To the end of our days.

Yesterday, I heard the river say,
Breathing is a spiritual endeavor:
Every inhalation is an act of reclaiming
The primal rhythms of life;
Every exhalation is an act of participation
Inside the creative dance of the elements
That makes life possible; and
The pause waiting for you
At the end of each exhalation
Is the space in which your senses open,
The exhausting self-attendance dissolves,
And your spirit renews its bond with the Earth
Where you began.