Day 5: Don’t fight the inhale!

In Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown tells a story where she is presenting at a conference. In between scheduled events, Brené is talking with Roshi Joan Halifax and mentions that she feels like resting, but should probably go to the reception.  Roshi responds with the following:

“Now it’s time to inhale. There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it’s easy to believe that we must exhale all the time, without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale.” 

When I woke up this morning, this quote came to mind.  Writing every day this week has completely transformed my week for the better.  I have pushed myself to stay open, to talk to strangers, to feel what is happening around me and within me.  And it has also felt like a long exhalation. 

I struggle with knowing what will give me the inhale.  I think it changes from day to day.  These are some things that often feel like the inhale: resting, reading, talking to a safe person, surfing, weight training, watching TV or a movie, journaling, walking, or being in nature.  You probably notice that these are pretty varied in terms of the physical or mental energy required.  To know what will feel like the inhale, I have to find the knowing. 

This morning I heard the knowing and it said I needed contact with my grounding people.  Luckily I got a call from one of those people first thing. *Inhale* I am pretty good at ignoring the knowing, so it’s good her knowing told her to call.  Then my sister called and we had a really meaningful conversation that I’ll probably share with you someday soon.  *Inhale*  Then I spent the day walking around DC looking at shops and museums, which did not feel like an inhale.  Actually, it sort of felt like holding my breath.  Do you ever feel like that? 

After a few hours, I realized what I was doing.  I was standing in the National Portrait Gallery (one of my favs) and I realized that my ability to absorb museum content had been completely exhausted.  I had no more space in my mind or heart for any of it.  It’s amazing how when you let go of the shoulds, like I should be enjoying this city or I shouldn’t just sit in my hotel room, you get instant clarity.  I walked out, got some lunch (hunger was also probably part of the problem) and caught the Metro back to my hotel. 

I called my parents and had a long conversation with them about all kinds of things.  We get on lots of tangents these days! *Inhale*  Then I sat down to write for the blog because I promised a post every day.  I started five or six different things.  Nothing was flowing.  Then that gentle nudge of a thought came back to me, “ Inhale.” 

I went down to the hotel coffee bar and got a yogurt and a drink (FOR FREE! Because the universe loves me…or the clerk was feeling lazy).  I came back up to my room, ate the yogurt and wrote for MYSELF.  This is such a powerful, cleansing exercise for me.  To write for the audience of ME!  It’s the best thing I do for my mental health.  And this is the beginning of what I wrote: “My writing is feeling too forced. It seems like I have been exhaling for 5 days straight and I’m out of air.  My lungs are empty.  I need some oxygen.  I think that’s why I’m having some trouble getting the words out tonight.”  Then I wrote about what is really weighing on my mind.  After putting all of that on the page, I was able to write this post for you.

Each one of us has the desire to create.  The medium varies.  The frequency with which we attempt it.  The size and scope of each creation.  The purpose.  But the medium we ARE ALL working in is life.  We are all creating a life.  It’s a massive and tedious undertaking.  The ability to keep creating with intention is crucially dependent on our willingness to allow for the inhale and the exhale.

So I write this as a reminder to myself—don’t fight the inhale!  And do it fiercely, like this ancient, prophetic priestess.   


Stay tuned for more medical testing tomorrow!  Namaste and goodnight.