What I am learning about breathing

I’ve been thinking a lot about breath of late. Of how vital it is and how much we take it for granted.

Maybe it is because I have started a weekly Tai Chi class that focuses so much on the exhale and inhale. Maybe it is because my constant phrase to my daughters when they get stressed or upset is, “Breathe”. Maybe it is because I find myself saying it when I text my friends, (I’m unsure whether it’s more a reminder for them or for me.)

Breathing is a part of life and yet why do I feel like I need more of it?

Why do I feel like I need to, “Catch my breath”?

Why do I feel like my breaths are too short, too shallow?

Why do I hunger for a moment to just breathe?

Some of it has to do with the pace of life; some of it necessary, and the rest that I have taken on board when maybe I shouldn’t. Some of it has to do with the mental load that I carry; of all that the house, the kids, and the family require.

Some of it has to do with holding my breath, instead of breathing naturally. In a metaphorical way mostly, but sometimes literally too. Holding on to worries and hurts and complaints when I should have released them long ago.

The key to breathing well, that I am learning from Tai Chi, is both the inhale and the exhale. Both are of equal importance, and we strive to keep both at the same pace. Exhaling for the same number of seconds that we inhale for. A slow steady rhythm.

As I ponder this I recall that our lungs take what they need from the inhale and expel what they don’t on the exhale.

When we exhale we even breathe out oxygen. The stuff that is useful and good for us. We don’t use it all. Our lungs are divinely formed to take just what we need in that moment.

I need to remember to take in what I need and exhale what I don’t. I need to remember that this rhythm of holding things for a set time, and then letting them go is a good rule not just for breathing but for life.