Between Each Breath

Between Each Breath
 ©2021 Louise Gallagher 
 
Between each breath
 there is a stillness
 within the stillness
 there is the space
 to breathe
 deeply
 into the beauty
 of all that is present
 in this moment
 embodied
 in all you are
 when you breathe
 within the stillness
between each breath. 

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I have a new routine. Instead of taking him outside every morning via the lower deck, I put my longest coat on over my pyjamas, don my boots and hat and gloves to ward off the chill of these winter mornings. I drape his harness over Beaumont’s head and attach the retractable leash and off we go into the darkness that is still morning this first week of January.

We walk out of our cul de sac, turn right onto the street that leads from the top of the hill down to the main road and, at the corner where it meets the main road, we turn right again and walk along the well-litpath leading to the pedestrian bridge over the river.

There is a spot about halfway across where someone has affixed a red plastic wreath. Inside it is a photo. It is of a man smiling. His smile is frozen in time. His body lost to the rushing waters some months ago when he leapt from the bridge and disappeared.

Every morning since I began this new routine just before Christmas Day, I stand below the wreath, close my eyes and take a breath. A deep one.

Beaumont sniffs in the snow that covers the pathway, pulling on the leash as long as I let him. And then he stops and stands watching me. Patiently waiting. As if he knows this is a moment of reverence.

I listen to the river. Its flow is fast and furious in the winter. The ice island keeps growing larger between the two buttresses sunk deep into the water to support the bridgedeck. Between the buttresses, where an ice island has formed in the centre of the river, the flow is blocked, forcing it to either side. It pushes and shoves its way through the narrower waterway, slipping off the ice where it grows outward from the shore towards the centre and from the centre of the river out. Ice locked.

I stand, eyes closed, heart open, breath stirring deep in my belly and listen to the river. I stand and say a silent prayer for this man for whom life became too great a burden.

I stand and say a prayer for all those who will today let go of the burden of their lives and fall into the everlasting.

I stand and say a prayer for all those fighting to cling to life with every breath they take and for those who stand by their bedsides giving aid and comfort. They are standing in for the ones who cannot be there. They carry their pain.

I stand and say a prayer for this world. So hurting. So bruised and battered. Battle weary. For the leafless trees standing sentinel in the dark along the river banks. For the geese honking and flapping their wings somewhere out on the ice island. And for the river and the ice and the mountains and the sands, the oceans and the seas. I stand and say a prayer.

I stand and say a prayer for those who are sick or for whom the separation of these days sits like a heavy cloak upon their shoulders, bending their backs.

I stand and say a prayer for those who are struggling, who are feeling lost and alone. Frightened or confused by these days of solitude.

And then, I bring my prayers back home to my heart.

I stand and say a silent prayer for those close to me and far away, I stand and say a prayer for my mother and my father and brother, his wife, my family members who are gone and my cousin who lost the battle to Covid and all those who will lose the battle today.

I stand in the stillness between each breath and say a prayer.

My mother taught me the power of prayer.

It is teaching me how to be present in the grace of stillness.

I am grateful.

Moments of quiet make a difference

Every morning  I awake, make coffee, let the cat in, the dog out, meditate, write my “Miracles Happen” list, respond to emails, comments etc., and write my blog, and when I have time, read other blogs and make comments there. And then, four days of the week, I get ready to leave the house to face my day.

That’s my morning ritual, except, lately, the meditation part has taken a back seat, it’s slipped from my mental landscape — and that’s not a good thing. I need to meditate. The world needs me to meditate. Meditation soothes my soul, raises my spirits and creates space for miracles everyday.

So…. what is it that keeps me from doing something that is good for me? Something I know makes a difference in the quality of my day?

Exercise. Meditation. Eating healthily. Calling my mother. Journalling. Taking my vitamins.

All of these things feed my soul. All of them use my time wisely. What is it that keeps me from spending time on them?

I read a story recently about a man who was a very ‘famous’ thief. During his career he stole an estimated $10 million in jewellery and other valuables from people on the social register. Unlike Robin Hood of eras past, he did not steal from the rich to give to the poor, he simply stole from the rich because they had more to steal. He was caught, spent 25 years in jail and when released, got a job in a burger joint. That was his life.

When interviewed by a reporter he said he realized, in hindsight, he didn’t just steal from the rich, he stole from himself. He stole his future, the things he could have done to make a difference in the world, the things he might have done to be different in the world.

And he couldn’t get that time back.

When I don’t meditate in the morning, or write in my journal at night, or take my vitamins or any of the other, good for me self-care things I don’t do — I can’t get the lost time, nor the lost benefits of the activity back. I am stealing my well-being from me.

And that makes a difference I don’t want to make in my life. Because when I don’t take positive care of me, I am not creating the greatest possibilities for awe and wonder and beauty in my world each day.

If you don’t meditate, or simply sit in silent contemplation every morning for a few minutes, try this…

Make a commitment that for the next week, starting right now — always begin where you’re at — that you will stop, close your eyes (if your hands on the keyboard simply leave them there, the key is to simply STOP what you’re doing and be still).

Now, deep breath. In. Out. Deep breath. In. Out.

Keep breathing. Relax your shoulders. Your neck. Your body.

Close your eyes!

Focus on your breathing. In……. Out….. In….. Out…..

Focus on the feeling of the air coming in through your nostrils, notice its coolness. Notice how it fills your lungs. Breathe. Slowly. In…. Out….

Count ten breaths in and out. Follow the flow of ten breaths in and out.

Now, open your eyes and continue on.

Do that every day — to begin with, once a day for ten breaths. But, try to add a couple of more exercises throughout the day. Do it three times a day if possible — but commit to doing it once a day for a week.

And then, next week, double the breaths. In….. Out…. 20 times

And if one day you forget, Begin again. Always begin again.

See. I just did it and I feel the benefits of the quiet flowing within me. I feel positive energy moving with grace and ease throughout my being.

Try it. It will make a difference.

and now, I’m off to take my vitamins.

Gotta go. The day is calling me to approach in wild-eyed wonder to the beauty of every moment unfolding with miracles of life all around.

Namaste.