It seems that my heart has been skipping a lot of beats lately.   
I’ve been gasping. 
And yes, while the air quality has been a major issue for my lungs, the ‘gasping’ is more than that.
The gasping has been about
the incredulity of words spoken by men in powerful positions
the devastation caused by the force of Nature
the unbelievable cruelty of human beings
the “ism’s” causing hatred, violence, terrorism
and more.

And none of it is stopping.

“Breathe, June.  Just breathe” 
I’ve said to myself as history has continued to be made in recent days and weeks.
“Breathe.  Just breathe”

It’s not just me.
Many seem to be having difficulty breathing deep, life-giving oxygen into their lungs
especially when political situations seem overwhelming
when health is compromised
when fear escalates simply by watching/listening to the news
when financial issues disrupt
when grief overwhelms.

I remember a day long ago, when my breath was shallow and fast. 
I dreaded the thought of being strapped into the MRI metal tube with its loud noises and being unable to move.   
But, the test needed doing, so I took my own advice and focused on my breathing.   
As I did, I thought of my friend who, diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the time, lungs barely functioning
was in wait-mode for a double lung transplant. 

It was a terrifying time for her.
As I was trying to move beyond the panic that was settling in within me
because of the  claustrophobia I was experiencing in the MRI
I intentionally breathed for, and with, my friend
slow, deep, belly breaths
over and over and over again
trying to take the focus off of myself
place it onto her
and did some conscious breathing
for us both.

When I find myself breathing short, shallow breaths because of the news
or anything that causes stress within me, like visits to the dentist, 
I pray
and I *belly breathe*
slow, deep breaths from my belly
gently expanding my belly, not raising my shoulders. 

When I do that, oxygen begins to fill my body and mind,
giving space for a sense of peace to enter my spirit.

I find a pattern of four breaths at a time helps …
1. As I breathe in, I am intentional about inhaling healing, wholeness, hope, peace, love.
Sometimes I use the prayer of Dame Julian of Norwich and on each inhale, I think/whisper “All shall be well.”
2. As I breathe out, I am intentional about exhaling anxiety, pain, fear, grief, stress.
Sometimes I use the next line of Dame Julian’s prayer “All shall be well.”
3. As I breathe in, I repeat the first breath’s focus
and think/pray/whisper/say “And all manner of thing”.
4. As I breathe out, I repeat the second breath’s focus
and think/pray/whisper/say “Shall be well.”

Dame Julian’s words don’t say things “are” well, but that they “shall be” well and that puts hope in my heart and mind and soul.

In – Out.  In – Out. In – Out.  In- Out. 
As I continue that pattern
the results seem to be
calming, healing, and soul-nourishing
and surely in these days of more-than-unrest-and-fear
we must do what we can to de-stress.

It’s not always easy to do
especially in moments of crisis
but there is a distinct difference in my stress level when I follow my own counsel.

We must remember to breathe
consciously breathe
gently, slowly, deeply
so that our body can get the oxygen it needs.

No matter what lies ahead in our personal lives
or in the world of politics
we’re of no use to anyone if we aren’t able to get oxygen into our body
so we can
distinguish between ‘real news’ and ‘fake news’
acknowledge the possibility of hope.

Just breathe.

Each day
regardless of what is happening
in the world
in the media
in our personal ives
and inhale

Just breathe.



© June Maffin