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
++++Of 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 travelled 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 bird 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 honour 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 or 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.

Remember
Spirit is the breath of life.
++Learning to breath 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 endeavour:
++++Every inhalation is an act of reclaiming
++++++The primal rhythms of life;
++++Every exhalation an act of participation
++++++Inside the creative dance of the elements
++++++That make 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.


Notes

  1. This is a poem about rehabilitation, renewal, and recovery. It explores breathing as a spiritual endeavour to reconnect with Source. The pandemic has imposed a profound sense of isolation and dislocation. It has intensified inequity, divisiveness, and conflict. A significant increase in mental health challenges seems certain.
  2. The distress caused by dysfunctional breathing patterns cannot be solved by exercises alone. In a deep sense, breathing is an innate bond with the natural world. This poem explores breathing as a search for connection, relationship and comfort in deeply troubled times. It offers a reminder of the inexorable connection between mental health and the quality of our relationship with nature.
  3. The visual shape of a poem is an important aspect of creative expression. However, creating the visual aspect of a poem in WordPress is awkward. To create the indentations here, I used the “+” character to create the necessary space and then change the text colour to white to render them invisible. It would nice to have tabs available.