Holding My Breath

BreatheIt all happened while I was trying to meditate on the concept of being present in the moment. Jennifer, the woman leading the meditation exercise, began by asking us to close our eyes. “Take a deep breath and hold it. Allow the feeling of fullness to arise in this moment. Slowly exhale, feeling the breath leave your body.” I took a deep breath, held it in until the air molecules were desperate for escape, and on my exhale thought Wow. I get it.

I lost the ability to center myself and focus on the meditation because my mind was racing. Testing my realization, I took another deep breath in, held onto it until the air seemed to be painfully pressing on my lungs, and released it. Yep, I got it.

Have you ever held on to something because you are afraid, if you let it go, the time will come when you need it and you won’t have it anymore? I do it quite frequently. It takes the form of an apple rotting on the counter, loose papers piled on the dining room table, and the detritus from a studio cleaning  still sitting in my closet. The fear of not having enough when I need it is revealed in the clothes I will never wear shoved into the corners of my closet, the hoarding of my favorite type of pens (I have somewhere around 12 pens with ink and 15 or so pens in need of ink refills), and the stress I feel when I have to spend money on something.

I am terrified of needing and not having enough to fill the need. Abundance means nothing to the part of me that operates from fear because more than enough is still not enough to silence its voice. The root of this fear has yet to be definitively uncovered, but the grasping behavior resulting from my fear leads to stress, clutter, procrastination, and a stinginess that is not in tune with my values. I am less than I could be, stunted and stifled, when I act from the place where the fear resides.

As the pressure of my inhaled breath became a pain that was instantly relieved when I exhaled, I was struck by the idea of how silly it would be to hold my breath upon every inhalation out of fear that the oxygen I need would not be available to me when it came time to take my next breath. I am amazed at how quickly the mind can process information. Before I took my next breath, I understood the faith I have that allows me the freedom to not hold my breath every time I inhale is the faith from which I need to operate in other areas of my life as well.

I trust my need for oxygen will be fulfilled every few seconds because it always has been fulfilled every few seconds. In much the same way, I have never truly been without something I need when I needed it. I am one of the fortunate ones in the world who truly has enough. More than enough, really. Clinging to the excess is just selfishness born from fear.

Refusing to release the air begging to be freed from my lungs causes pain. Waste, clutter, and stinginess hurt me, too. They keep me from being my best self. I want to be vital, vibrant, generous, alive. I want to operate from a place of peace, free from excess mental and physical baggage. I want to let go of worry and release goodness into my life and the lives of those around me. I know I cannot do these things when I am operating from a place of fear. What I saw clearly for an instant in the meditation moment was the need to live from a place of faith and stop holding my breath.

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2 responses to “Holding My Breath

  1. Loved this! I was just thinking today about the power of breath in centering us in our experience, but I love the idea of releasing what we don’t need, just as we release our breath.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! It makes my day to know that people connect enough with something I write to engage with me through comments. I’ve been trying to notice my breath more often. It helps center me, as you said.

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