The most important stage of breathing is the exhale.
— an anonymous runner
A runner said the most important stage of breathing is the exhale. A complete exhale leaves me room to breath in fully. When I expel all the carbon-dioxide, there is room for what works best; oxygen (and lots of nitrogen). I’m also able to choose whether I slowly inhale or quickly exhale.
My first two weeks of trying this out left me with sore lungs. I was not familiar with this under-utilized organ. Like any muscle that is rarely used there was a period of mild discomfort and adjustment. After the first few weeks, my lungs adapted and their capacity increased.
When I was canoeing at Herbert Lake this summer, I was able to paddle consistently for long periods with short breaks. Breathing fully in and out also allowed me to feel my feelings. My Dad had died two weeks previous. I was camping to recharge my spirit and find serenity in nature. I had the entire lake to myself.
Feeling grief and loss, I imagined inviting my Dad to see what I loved to do. I pictured him being enthusiastic and heard encouragement in his voice as I paddled. The canoe floated at the base of the mountain and I felt tiny in its cold shadow. I shared a warm moment with my father and felt connected to him. It was a small step on the road to forgiveness for myself as I could not make direct amends to him while he was alive; living amends was the best I could do.
Breathing fully allows me to feel alive, to share my feelings and to connect with people; living or deceased. I feel hope as I clear away the wreckage of my past. My Higher Power and I make way for new relationships with people in the program as I accept my feelings and myself.
A meditation for October 30, 2013.