As a part of our New Year’s celebration we all came up with 3 words to focus on this year. Mine were: faith, connect, and BREATHE
I know every one breathes. But as I have been focusing on these words, I find there is a depth to breathing that I didn’t realize.
I am coming to believe that our emotional journey; is linked to our spiritual journey; is linked to our physical journey. Many people don’t link them together. For instance, most therapists really focus on the emotional journey. I know people who go to therapy for everything. Most religious leaders focus on the spiritual journey. We all know people who use religion for everything. Fitness Centers, work out programs and personal trainers primarily focus on the physical journey. Certainly there is benefit in developing one at a time. Sometimes we need to really target one specific area of ourselves.
It is not so easy to truly integrate all three areas. I think many people are like me, and they target all the areas simultaneously, without being able to weave them together. At one time, I thought the emotional journey was the most important. I got a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy when I was 22. I just knew that if I could figure out how to have the best marriage and family, then I would have the secret to the universe. That was all I needed to get there. WRONG!
I have always been conscious of my physical journey. I always attempted to stay healthy and fit. I thought it was about having a low heart rate, living longer and looking good in your jeans…..WRONG!
I definitely got tricked into thinking that religion was all I needed to find my way on the spiritual journey. You want more spirituality? Just plug in more religion!……..WRONG!
I was very conscientious. I worked all the right formulas and did all the right equations! I still ended up as a 40 year old, flabby, burned out, broken down mom of 4 with a marriage on the rocks. How could this happen? I worked out! I had converted (twice) to Judaism! I moved my family to an orthodox community! I had a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy for pete’s sake! I did everything right! …………WRONG AGAIN!!
I wasn’t really connecting the dots. I hadn’t found a way to address body/mind/spirit together to get a fuller picture of what was holding me back.
We talk about breathing all the time. It seems to be linked to one’s perspective and state of mind.
“take a breather”
Big deep breathing is positive and linked to someone who is healthy, relaxed and happy. Someone who doesn’t know how to “breathe” is seen as anxious and high strung. As I have begun to focus on this word, I realize how much I am NOT breathing. Every time I feel overwhelmed and suffocated by my life, I find I am holding my breath, or just taking small shallow breaths. I am physically suffocating as I am emotionally suffocating. If I am thinking about God at those times, it is basically “Where the hell are you?”
Learning to run has led me to learning to breathe. As I have tackled the physical challenges, I have had to face the emotional challenges. Things that had been buried so deep that I didn’t even know I was suffering from them. They took on a 3-D characteristic that made them impossible to ignore. (Not that I have ever been accused of denial). I couldn’t grow physically until I was willing to grow emotionally. As I faced the physical and emotional challenges, I had to then examine my spiritual framework to see where it was stunting my progress. It sounds kind of complicated but really it just came down to hanging on to myself while I focused on breathing.
So, more and more I am looking at my life as a body/mind/spirit journey. Each part is linked to the other. Each area of growth has to include the others. Running has become much more than just a work out. I am physically increasing my lung capacity by running. Yet, I am now aware of the carry over into the other areas. I “breathe” a little easier with my husband and children. I have more patience and perspective with them. I feel claustrophobic and suffocated less. This has significantly raised the “happiness factor” in my marriage and my family. Sometimes, my life does feel like it is crashing down around me (usually Friday afternoon). I now try to “breathe” and not panic. I have adopted the motto: As long as I can still breathe, I can do it.
In Genesis, when God created Adam and Eve, he “breathed” life into them. He put his breathe inside of them. When I am running, about the only thing I CAN focus on is breathing. I get to a deep quiet place inside myself. That is where I seem to find God waiting for me. This is where I find myself waiting for me. Hopefully I am finding the piece of God inside of me that IS me. And this is probably what actually saves me. This is what keeps me coming back for more.