Everyone knows how to breathe. We’re born knowing how to breathe. No one has to teach us and it’s one of those things we each take for granted. Most of the time we don’t think about breathing. We don’t consciously think, ok I need to inhale now. Or now I need to exhale.
Except when an event in life literally takes your breath away.
That cliché is used so often to describe when something really wonderful happens, but I’ve always found that when wonderful things have happened to me, I’ve still remembered to breathe.
It’s when life throws you a curve ball or you hit a big obstacle in the river of life that it becomes next to impossible to breathe.
When I finally gathered the courage to tell my husband that I couldn’t be married to him anymore, I stopped breathing.
The first time I had to drop my children off for a week with their dad, I stopped breathing.
When I came under a vicious personal social media attack by a troll, I stopped breathing.
When my heart was broken into millions of tiny pieces, I stopped breathing.
Each time, I have found myself at the centre of a moment that seems ultra vivid, ultra quiet, ultra scary. So how do I get through times such as these? For me, I have to stay in the present moment and I’ve learned to embrace the ultra everything. Even when I feel like my head is going to explode or my eyes are going to float away from tears or my chest is going to burst because I can’t get enough oxygen.
I force myself to breathe.
And I tell myself if I can get one more breath in, I can get one more breath out. And then if I can breathe for 10 seconds, then I can breathe for 30 seconds. And if I can breathe for 30 seconds then I will be able to make a minute and if I can make a minute, then I will definitely be able to make five minutes. And so on.
I’ve used this trick more times than I like. But at least I can be sure that I keep breathing. And really, that’s all I need to do. Just breathe. The rest will take care of itself.
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