Breathing for Strength and Clarity
We’re all carrying and catching an enormous amount. Most of the time, we are not wearing any form of safety harness or back brace. When you feel the strain, take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to stretch. Take a moment to reflect on your physical and mental strength, along with your limitations. Inhale. Then exhale.
I’ve heard myself self-directing this of late. With the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, juggling the needs of my three year old, staying at home, managing my seasonal allergy response to spring, assessing my resources, along with the stress of everything, taking a second to breathe seems appropriate from time-to-time.
Call it a stress management tool, a relaxation technique, or even breathing exercises, isolating one's focus to the breath can be a source of mind and body repair.
My daughter is a big girl for three. This morning she thought she would springboard from Mommy & Daddy’s bed. Perhaps she knew that I would leap to catch her. Perhaps her true aim was the floor itself. With 54,000 currently dead in America from the virus, heading to the hospital for some nonsense is not on my agenda.
I caught her and immediately felt a stress in the muscles between and behind my shoulder blades. Hours of an unhappy face of a day followed. I honestly stopped around 10AM to see if the discomfort within my upper body was not the lungs. As an asthmatic, I needed to isolate the sensation. I was feeling a pressure, but was it to the lungs or the muscles? Was I short of breath? Was I wheezing?
For those without life-long respiratory problems, it’s not unusual for someone to be in distress and unaware. When you experience a shortness of breath with a change in the weather or have confused your own wheezing for the sounds of birds, being able to conduct a self-diagnostic exam is mandatory. My history includes asthma triggered by stress, allergens, exercise, and food.
The pressure appears to extend from the neck, across the upper rear rib cage. I appear to have a full breathing capacity and no sign of wheezing. If these last two were negative, it eliminated the need to use my rescue inhaler. Hooray for that.
I applied a heating pad for about 20 minutes. I also took a couple of Tylenol. Eventually, I laid flat on the floor. First I took a moment to focus. Was I breathing okay? Could I control my breath? It was a positive outcome, that encouraged a bit of focused floor work.
I extended my arms 180 degrees from the torso and slowly had them meet above my head. Next exercise was alternating arc the arms to meet the floor, one starting by the hip, the other above the head. A wonderful stretch that I’ve done with weights for years. Without weights, I could feel the benefit.
As I reflected on my ability to nurse this discomfort that will eventually pass, I was reminded of the thousands with a similar pressure in their back, neck, head, and chest. Thousands of us have had loved ones plucked from our lives.Thousands of us are in limbo wondering “Do I have it” or “Does my loved one have it.” The process of acknowledging, processing and mourning is unlike anytime in this country’s history.
For each family affected, I lift you and your loved ones in prayer as you guide through this period. Take your time to find your way. Inhale. Then exhale.
Even as I sit to write this entry some seven hours after the catch, I’m aware that each time I feel the tension in my back I should inhale deeply. Then, with a moment of reflection and a chance to give thanks, I can exhale.