M y breath is hurried. It’s shallow. My lungs feel constricted. My thoughts scurry around from one thing to another. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to see out of the tunnel that’s surrounded my vision. But still, I breathe. I feel my nerves tighten. I feel my heart beginning to race. My arms start to shake. But still, I breathe. I want to find my way back. I want to be the person I was 20 minutes ago. But how do I release the energy being driven into me?
I remind myself there’s breath coming in and out of my lungs. I’m still breathing. I’m still alive. As much as I wish life would be an easy, peaceful, dopamine-laden existence, it won’t be. I don’t get to float around on a constant cloud of joy. I must face this struggle. I must face my fear. This is the course my life will take. This is the course I need to learn from. And I will.
But first, I have to keep breathing.
As author Bryant McGill says, “Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So, relax.”
Just keep breathing. My breath will help restore my calm.
Learning to Breathe
Breathing seems innate. I didn’t have to learn how to breathe. I was born with the skill to let air flow in and out of my lungs. I can breathe involuntarily. Without thought or intent, my breath will continue and keep me alive. But is being merely alive the goal? Or do I want more?
I needed to learn to breathe with intent. I needed to learn to live with intent. I needed to learn how to live my life in the uncomfortable moments as well as the peaceful moments. My peace is not defined by anyone other than myself. I don’t hold onto the outcomes, but I do hold onto the circumstances that led me here.
As Jason Reynolds wrote in Ain’t Burned All the Bright,
I sit here wondering why my mother won’t change the channel and why the news won’t change the story and why the story won’t change into something new instead of the every-hour rerun about how we won’t change the world or the way we treat the world or the way we treat each other.
Many of us were domesticated, conditioned, or taught to survive. Some of us were taught to fight. Some of us were taught to absorb pain. Some of us learned that we can’t change the world. So, we had to accept it. But here’s the secret: breathe.
The truth is only found within. The truth doesn’t come from what others tell us. The truth doesn’t come from our will. The truth comes from patience, consistency, peace, and breath. We keep breathing. We are worthy.
There’ll always be times at which fear gets the best of us. There’ll be times when we’re reminded of who we were domesticated to be. But those moments should also remind us of how we choose to live each day. We can shed those expectations, those untrue indoctrinations. If we get away from the constriction of hurried breath, we can come back to our center. If we take deep and meaningful breaths, we can remember our worth. Breathe in our truth. Hold it in. And exhale what no longer serves us.
We are worthy. We do not have to repeat the rerun. We can change the world. We can change the way we treat each other … as long as we remember to breathe.