Thursday, March 30, 2017


...then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. ~Genesis 2:7

I've been thinking about breathing lately.  It first started when I was watching an interview with a then 94 year old woman who taught yoga.  Tao Porchon-Lynch is now 98 years old, and I think she still teaches yoga.  When she was asked, what is the secret to her vitality and health, she answered, "It's about the breath.  Breathing takes away fear."  As I thought about when I first learned some yoga poses, I remembered the instructors teaching how to deeply breathe through each pose, and I remembered how effective it was to then focus on the pose or the stretch at hand.  I also remember the instructors saying, "Smile." I liked that part.  I don't practice yoga as a meditation, but I do enjoy it as a way to stretch and exercise for my health.  I find it relaxing too.

Later on I was reading from The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge where the protagonist, Mary, is reading from the diaries of her late Aunt Mary.  The diary told of her mental "terror of impending disorder" and how tired it made Aunt Mary day after day.  She wanted nothing more than to live in the country where there weren't so many social things pressing in on her fragile spirit. Eventually, she did move to the English countryside where she found peace and solace in breathing deeply the scents of flowers and fresh air and appreciating the beauty of her own garden.  Nature spoke to her weary soul --  every bee and butterfly, bird and tree. Mary knew she would have illness and depression in the winter months through the years, but she anticipated spring and knew she could hold on until then. She still had times when "she lost her reason" but she felt she could breathe in the openness of the country.  Do you ever feel that it is easier to breathe when you go on a country drive or when you take time to walk into nature and take it all in?  I live in the country and yet I need time to walk, to really look, to appreciate nature, and to be thankful for all of it.

A friend from church recently had a mini-stroke.  They didn't know why because she was in very good health.  She went to Mayo Clinic for further examination and the cause was stress.  She had been working very hard ranching beside her husband day after day, and her doctor said she needed to do less and relax more.  I don't know if the doctor said it, but I can imagine he might have said, "You need to breathe.  Deeply."  

One verse from the Bible that I am very fond of is this:  "Be still and know that I am God."  (Psalm 46:10)  Another translation says, "Cease striving and recognize that I am God."  All day long we strive, don't we?  We want to do more.  We want to do our best.  We want to perform up to the standards set before us.  Even upon our beds, our minds are racing, planning, anticipating, hoping, fearing.  Where is our rest?  When do we get to be still, breathe, and know that we are in God's hands?  Believe me, I know well that of which I speak. 

I remember seeing one of my granddaughters hurt and upset.  She was crying and breathing so hard that it made her situation worse.  The more she cried, the more desperate she felt, the faster she breathed, until her mother said, "Just breathe with me -- slow breaths, in your nose, out your mouth.   Just breathe."  And together they slowed everything down.  The crying subsided, the fear abated, the breathing calmed, and the hurt was tended to.  

Why is it that we find it so hard to slow down, to experience the little things, to focus on the here and now, to be in the moment, to just breathe?  To just be.

As I took my walk this afternoon I thought about the animals I was seeing around me:  the cows chasing their calves, the sheep grazing in the hay field,  the geese floating in the reservoir, the pair of  antelope running at breakneck speed.  Were they worried?  Were they trying hard to be themselves?  Does an antelope worry that his speed is not fast enough?  Does the cow get upset that her baby is bucking and playing too much?  Does the goose have concerns about his ability to float as well as the duck?  No.  They are all content to be exactly what God made them to be. They can breathe, they can be still and know. 

And then do you know what I did?  I stopped walking so fast.  I purposely slowed my pace.  I made an effort to breath deeply, still walking, but breathing with intention.  It's a different feeling.  It's both exhilarating and relaxing.  

What do you think of the breath?  Of breathing deeply?  Of taking time to relax and to just be?  Thank you for taking time to read my scattered thoughts.  You are sweet to come this far with me.  Now let's breathe together.  And smile!


  1. Breathing deeply and nodding my head. :)

  2. Isn't that our earthly struggle. Be still and know. Let Him be God, not us. I love this post. The visuals are calming.

  3. Dear Jody,
    Lovely post and so true. Any time I feel that anxious thought begin to creep in, that is always when I breathe deeply. I think it seems more natural when you are surrounded by nature and by animals.
    I think that is what would be so hard if I were to live in a neighborhood again. Not being able to breathe. I love your insights and the words from the most profound book I have ever read. :) Have a lovely day.

  4. This is a wise post, Jody. I try to remind myself to slow down, to be present in the moment and, yes, to breath. And then reality happens :-)

  5. Your thoughts didn't seem scattered to me - probably you were breathing deeply as you wrote on the topic, and focused on it, which I agree is good to ponder.

    One of my cousins is a voice teacher, and when I was first grieving for my husband she advised me to not forget to breathe! I do at least think about this every night when my head hits the pillow. I use deep breathing to slow myself down and to help me pray myself to sleep, too.

    Most of the time, though, I don't. Unless I am struck by some delicious smell outdoors, in which case I breathe hungrily. This happened to me when I arrived at my daughter's house in the forest. I had had the windows up and not until I got out of the car did I smell the pines and cedars and firs, and I couldn't get enough of that air!

  6. What a great post Jody! I feel like I never do the breathing correctly in my yoga class -- I guess I've always looked at it more as a method of stretching, even though I know the breathing is very important. My mother has asthma and has such a hard time breathing -- I think a lot of it is anxiety and your post has made me think that maybe I need to work with her and try to get her to relax and ... breathe. Thanks!

  7. Very timely, friend.

    Thinking of you - always.

  8. Hello this is so beautiful. I've stopped by a few times and your writing and your inclusion of God in your writing is very helpful. I, too, need to learn to breathe properly and dream of living in the country someday because of my anxiety issues. I just need to work on the here and now. Thanks again.

  9. I love this post. When we built our cabin, I made it a point to sit on our porch and breath. It was a great habit and I believe that is why our cabin in the woods is a refuge and true Hygge. Here the world slows down you listen, breath, relax, and savor life. Your post really made me contemplate what makes this place so great. Breathing is the key to life figuratively and literally!

  10. I agree completely -- both with the breathing (deeply! slowly! intentionally!) and with living in the country and spending time in nature. I'm so much happier here on the farm. Those are my favorite days. Walking to the barn, puttering at length in the garden. It brings calm, peace, rest. It's so true that stress causes much of our physical illnesses. I need to read Goudge's book; I haven't read that one, and lady friends seem to refer to it often. Thanks for a glimpse into the book!


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