A body scan. I am focused on mattitude. I lay supine. My arms and legs do not feel attached to my core as my stomach rises and falls within the range of wheeze emanating from the pit of my smoker lungs. I consider fleeing, a feeling I have indulged since quitting drinking. I think about whether I would rather quit smoking or get hit by a bus as breath continues to flow in and out through my nose with the occasional mouth sigh. I know the drill. After yoga, I have an appointment. Will I walk from the studio or take my car? Shit, nothing in the fridge for grazing. Do I have an eating disorder? These are the thoughts that take up space in my breath. The thoughts are like mosquitoes, nipping at my bits inopportunely. Swatting them away is counterintuitive to the exercise of stillness I am engaged in. I have a choice just now, in this, my current breath. I can stay with it, if I choose. And the last thought I allow myself to have before I inevitably surrender to my breath, must be this: I best choose wisely.
Being present is a necessity in recovery. If you have one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow, you are literally pissing on today. Albeit a graphic visual, you’d think it would be easy to will yourself into the “now” position. And it isn’t enough to simply get there—it has to be sustainable, that’s the trick: To distill the substance of a moment from the essence of a breath. Your body. Your breath. Your breathing. We breathe through everything without a thought. We don’t need to be taught how to breathe. It kinda happens on its own. How many times do we breathe each day without a shred of consciousness as to its significance as THE life force? Until getting sober and discovering yoga (which happened almost simultaneously), I took breathing as much for granted as I did living. Like you get a certain amount of breaths within some prescribed number of years then boom, done like dinner. Vaporized into the cosmos on a spirit journey to the afterlife, pre determined by the concrete steps taken while living as an earthling. This, like many perceptual distortions, came from an addled brain hell bent on living a reality predicated on self serving expedience. If it was useful, logical and made sense to me, that was enough. I made it through whole decades on the coattails of my own paradigm. It didn’t work out so well. And it won’t. Ever. (The courage to change the things I can)
Nothing we experience is a universal experience. We have individual experiences of a universal nature. My breath is different than your breath. Yet we both breathe. (The serenity to accept the things I cannot change). This distinction marks a clear boundary between identification and comparison; empathy and ego; gifted from the truth of the mat to the reality of my recovery. I discovered within this ephiph-a-me attached to breathing, the essence of self vis-a-vis others. My breath is my business. Your breath is your business. And from this place of concrete self awareness, I can surrender to stillness uniquely my own. The place where I hold my safe space. The focal point of all that is to follow.
I know, right…This sounds either patronizing to the max in its simplicity, or too wafty in the extreme to merit comment. But the only mirror that matters in yoga is the one that takes you inside; and the only way to get there is through breath. The body is a labyrinth. The postures and poses are an infrastructure of air flow mechanisms—consciously created to harness and move the directional energy at the core of the autonomic reflex of breathing. Your body and your directional energy. Just how cool is that? Breathing is not optional for the living. How we breathe is (the wisdom to know the difference).
Breath is the foundation of life. Breathing is the foundation of yoga: Conscious breathing of the kind propelling lines of inquiry from body to heart to spirit is how we change. Without breath, it isn’t yoga. Without conscious breathing, you cannot be present. If you are not present, you are absent from your own experience.
Best choose wisely.