The sense of respiration is an example of our natural sense relationship with the atmospheric matrix. Remember, respiration means to re-spire, to re-spirit ourselves by breathing. It, too, is a consensus of many senses. We may always bring the natural relationships of our senses and the matrix into consciousness by becoming aware of our tensions and relaxations while breathing. The respiration process is guided by our natural attraction to connect with fresh air and by our attraction to nurture nature by feeding it carbon dioxide and water, the foods for Earth that we grow within us during respiration. When we hold our breath, our story to do so makes our senses feel the suffocation discomfort of being separated from Earth’s atmosphere. It draws our attention to follow our attraction to air, so we inspire and gain comfort. Then the attraction to feed Earth comes into play so we exhale food for it to eat and we again gain comfort. This process feels good, it is inspiring. Together, we and Earth conspire (breathe together) so that neither of us will expire. The vital nature of this process is brought to consciousness when we recognize that the word for air, spire, also means spirit and that psyche is another name for air/spirit/soul.
~ Michael J. Cohen, Reconnecting with Nature: Finding Wellness Through Rebuilding Your Bond with the Earth
After the last presidential election, I got caught up in the news cycle and a Twitter obsession (addiction). So did a lot of folks. Eventually I came to realize that this was as bad for my health and well-being as cigarettes, alcohol, and junk food. Almost as hard to quit, too. Those of you who have been following me for a while can probably pinpoint when I’ve relapsed, so to speak, by the tone and subject matter of my blog posts. That’s usually when I drag out my well worn soapbox to pontificate on something that has made me feel angry, sad, frustrated, or sickened.
During the 11 weeks of The Art of Self Care course, I very rarely dipped into the news. I wanted to stay informed, but it didn’t seem as important. I figured the world could live without me for 11 weeks and, of course, it did. I acquired a lot of new and small habits during that time, and have become more aware of not only those small habits I worked on, but on the small habits that were a side-effect of the newly learned, and small, habits. Ripples, in a sense, emanating from the pebbles dropped into the pond that is my life.
Something I did last night and then did again this morning brought to light another ripple. Throughout the 11 weeks of learning about small changes and diving deeper into yoga and meditation, any time I spent with the news cycle was balanced, in a sense, by the reading I was doing for the course. More than balanced. The scale was tilted and weighed down on the side of reading things of a positive, inspirational nature. Not necessarily spiritual, although I suppose some of it could be said to be just that. For instance, Karin (the teacher of the course) would send us weekly links to podcasts, videos, and articles about the subject matter of the week, anything from why you should exercise and movement in your life to why you need to get a good night’s sleep.
There were book recommendations, too, and I’m still working my way through those. I’m currently reading Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement Expanded Edition by Katy Bowman, a wonderful book about how we should move more, throughout the day and throughout our lives, instead of just exercise now and then. (The author of the book made a wonderful video — a little over 6 minutes — explaining this simple concept, which you can find here.)
But I digress, as usual. Last night I had a quick look at Facebook to check on the community page for our Keep America Beautiful affiliate. We get messages, responses to posts, etc., that I try to answer in a timely manner. For me, timely means I check it twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. There are often complaints, people letting us know how trashed their road is or where there is an abandoned house that is being used as a dump or wanting to know why prisoners aren’t being used to pick up trash (because the state charges $40/hour for each prisoner and guard, and we are a very poor county). I find it interesting how those same people who like to complain suddenly disappear when I make suggestions on what they can do to help. Not all of them, but a high percentage of them. It’s a fascinating phenomenon.
When I finished with that, I looked at my news feed because, well, I was there so why not? (Why not, indeed. Heh.) Instead of a bunch of memes about the news cycle or stories from the news that people were sharing, I came across some wonderful stuff. I read posts from people who were describing their day spent out in nature, beautiful and original artwork from artists I follow, poems (still lots of Mary Oliver poems going around), a story about a local couple who are working to return a forest to native-only species, beautiful photographs from parks and places off the beaten path, and all kinds of good stuff.
The post that really stood out for me was Parker Palmer’s. He shared a Mary Oliver poem (“The Poet Dreams of the Mountain”) along with his commentary about it:
“Sometimes,” says Mary Oliver, “I grow weary of the days with all their fits and starts.” Same here! Especially as “breaking news” spins like a tornado with every news cycle, kicking up dust, making it hard to see or stay focused on what’s foundational, vital, and true.
In “The Poet Dreams of the Mountain,” Oliver writes about the importance of perspective, of standing in a place above and beyond the frenzy. “I want to climb some old grey mountain,” she says. “I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts. / In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.”
I want to remember the poet’s wisdom about taking slow steps and thinking long thoughts. I also want to remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. said about “the fierce urgency of now.”
I don’t want to disengage from the politics of our time by turning off the news: I’m a U.S. citizen, and I need to stay informed and engaged on issues critical to the common good. But neither do I want to lose my bearings in a flurry of false urgencies.
Memo to Self: Stay engaged, but “think like a mountain” more often than you do. Remember what it’s like to climb to the heights and look back on the landscape of life. Up there, you’re no longer caught up in the world’s madness, but reality remains in view. Now you can see the world steady and see it whole. Now you can get clear about where you are needed and called before you return to the fray…
Reading Mr. Palmer’s post, it occurred to me that I am still balancing, or overbalancing, the news cycle with art, poems, good reads, wonderful photographs, books that inspire, and other things that speak to the heart-soul (or the body-mind, as the case happens to be with the book I’m currently reading). I am overbalancing with walks, with spending an hour sitting under a loblolly pine and watching the birds that come to visit, with being present for the sunrises and sunsets, with time in the kitchen preparing good food to eat, and a myriad of other things that have nothing to do with the news cycle and everything to do with living the best life I can. Will these activities change the world? Probably not, although I suspect that if everyone did more of that there would be less interest in the histrionics of the daily news.
On that note, I want to share with you another Katrina Kenison post. Because it’s beautiful. It’s about a book and gardens, friends, time, and the passage of time. dear older: I did not expect tears!
Thank you for stopping by today. There are some high, thin clouds in the sky today, and that might make sunset a little more interesting and colorful than usual. Let’s meet at the Point. Sunset is at 7:22 PM. It’s warmer today than it has been and not nearly as windy. I’d suggest layers again. The air is warmer but the water is still cold.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,031) Everything changes. I was especially grateful for that fact after a morning of not feeling well (stomach bug). This, too, did pass. 1,032) Crackers, ginger ale, comfy blankets, and warm slippers. 1,033) Morning visitors who brighten up the day. 1,034) Indoor plumbing. 1,035) Over-correcting in ways that are good for the heart/soul.