Kind promise: I will release and receive. (Breathe)

I have come to the end of another cycle of kind promises. What now?

Out of nowhere comes the thought: it’s about breathing.

Breathe out. Breathe in. Release. Receive.


In the wake of the death of a hard drive and the loss of five months of files, I am releasing. With the dawning awareness of what could be a new physical normal of weakness and pain, I am releasing.

I became aware that my relationship with my breath had changed on my way to the ER for what was to become my closest brush with death (so far) and my longest hospitalization. I knew that there was nothing to be done but deliver myself into the hands of the doctors and see what happened next. (What happened was surgery and six weeks of skilled care for treatment of a stage IV decubitus ulcer – dread disease of wheelchair users.)

As we drove to the ER, I paid attention to breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out. If I lost concentration on my breath, I knew I would fall into agonies of wild surmise. I would imagine (graphically and in detail) that terrible things were happening and horrible things would follow. I did not want to do that, so I breathed.

Oddly, it was another year and a half before I started a meditation practice which is, for me a matter of paying attention to my breath. I find a comfortable position (mindfulness of body) and breathe (mindfulness of breath).

My imagination still pulls me away fantasizing the future or lingering over the past. Early in my meditation practice, I would pull it away roughly, sticking its nose back onto my breath and scolding it for its lack of discipline. Slowly, (with help from my teachers Jan Lundy and Susan Piver) I learned compassion for my recalcitrant attention.

I am no longer mean to my thoughts. When I realize my attention has wandered from my breath, I say to it, “right now I am just breathing.” I don’t have to use my meditation time to plan or regret, scheme or confabulate. I just return my intention to following the breath (mindfulness of mind).

Breathe out. Breathe in. Release. Receive.