On this gray, dreary, misty, wintry morning, I sat on my mat at the end of yoga class and listened to my breath, especially to the pauses in between.
I’m granted this opportunity every week I practice at my intimate neighborhood studio, Amsa, but this morning I especially savored the experience of surrendering, of becoming absorbed, immersed in the simple act of breathing. My awareness of myself – my body and its automatic processes – was heightened, and I was deeply grateful.
Throughout the day, I reflected on this morning gift of gratefulness. I was struck by how little attention I afford to my breath – that automatic thing we all do in order to live. Breath – the constant current of our life force, which breathes us into a continual state of being – holds such surprising gifts.
Brushes with the Divine
The lessons learned on the yoga mat are analogous to those absorbed while working at the studio table. If we listen to the tide of our breath, to the rhythm of our inhales and exhales, we gradually begin to become more present, more attuned to our essence, our essential selves. These exquisite pauses, in which everything dissolves into nothing, hold vast potential. It is within this nothingness, this pause between, that we are bestowed glimpses of an intimate inner peace that some refer to as brushes with the divine.
A larger force bestows these gifts of gratefulness, reflection, knowing and wisdom, but we have to do our part by showing up.
Consider the wisdom in the following poem:
A lifetime is not what is between
the moments of birth and death.
A lifetime is one moment
Between my two little breaths.
The present, the here, the now,
That’s all the life I get.
I live each moment in full,
In kindness, in peace, without regret.
– Chade Meng, Taoist poet
Frankly, I wish he had said “strive to live each moment in full” because I think it is impossible to live each and every moment as fully as he describes. Even so, we are lucky for these glimpses into such moments of pause.
Embrace the Pauses Between
Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.
– Mary Oliver, from Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches
In this New Year, consider pausing your life’s routine to take advantage of Healing Icons’ creative offerings. Sign up for a week of artistic and cultural immersion in Italy this May, where we will have many opportunities to honor, reflect, create and awaken more fully into our lives.