“There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it’s easy to believe that we must exhale all of the time, without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale.” – Dr. Joan Halifax
I read this quote a few days ago & it struck me as such a fitting analogy for my life. Sometimes, I can let my life get very full and in the process I forget about myself. All of the activities that I think that I need to do (whether for other people or for myself) are my exhales. The pauses in between all of those activities are my inhales. When I forget to inhale, I lose energy and it’s really hard to complete all of the tasks that I’ve set out for myself. The inhales in my life aren’t just nice to have. They are a necessity!
When I’m teaching a yoga class, one of the things that I do quite frequently is remind people to breathe. My students are so caught up in the doing of the pose that they forget to ‘be’ in the pose as well. Simply put, they forget to breathe. Usually when this is happening, my students are struggling to do the pose. However, something happens when you bring your breath into the pose. An ease settles over the body. The yoga pose might still be difficult but your body & mind are better able to handle the difficulty by nourishing your body with your breath.
I’m as guilty as all of my students. When I get in a difficult pose, the first thing that I forget to do is breathe. A simple reminder to myself to inhale is enough to calm my body. I can let the ease into my life with just a simple breath. While this shouldn’t be revolutionary to me, whenever I apply this knowledge it seems like the first time. Each breath has the power to bring peace and ease. I just need to allow this into my life.
I see this forgetting to pause and breath show up in my life in other ways as well. As a mom with young kids, the inhales in my life came infrequently in my life. I was so caught up in the doing of all of the ‘mom’ things that I forgot to inhale and nourish myself.
Now that my kids are older, I would think that I would be better at this. I have more time to inhale and pause than I used to have, right? Well, yes I do, but I also fill up this time with so many other activities. I’m really good at exhaling out my energy in so many directions. I’m still not so good at pausing to inhale.
The problem with this is that I can only do this for so long before my body demands that I pause to inhale. Usually, this is when I get sick or let a ball drop. I really hate it when that happens. I feel like I’ve let myself down.
This is so unrealistic of me. To imagine that I can continue at a hectic pace with all of life’s activities and not take the time to pause and inhale, is to imagine myself as super-human. Acting as if I’m superhuman is exhausting & I don’t want to do it any longer than absolutely necessary.
So, when I receive reminders like this quote that the inhales of my life are just as important as the exhales, I remember to pause and enjoy the moments of my life that are in between all of the activity. That quote popped out at me because I’m in the middle of a very full summer & in order to come out of it and not be exhausted, then I need to pause & inhale as much as possible.
I’ll be the one in the corner taking that deep breath in & enjoying it completely! Practice with me whenever you get the chance. Pause and Inhale. It’s a beautiful practice.