In the picture the words on the sand "Just breathe"/DepositPhoto

A reminder to stop and breathe

Guest Column by Carrie Lockhert

So many of us, me included, forget to just breathe during our daily juggle of too many jobs that demand our attention. For just one moment today stop running from task to task, pause, take a minute to fill your lungs slowly counting 1, 2, 3. Hold 1, 2, 3. Exhale 1, 2, 3.

The irony of this time of quarantine during Holy Week with a global pandemic is sweeping the Earth, isolating people everywhere and literally taking the breath from others should not be lost on us. If you look to most faith traditions from Buddhist meditations to Christian contemplative prayer you will find practices in being still and breathing and yet for many of us we have lost this ability to be quiet and just breathe. Now an invisible virus is forcing us to do just that. Ironic, don’t you think?

The Natural World Is Coming Back to Life

During this pause we are also seeing the natural world come into focus and fill its lungs. Scientists are actually able to hear the heartbeat of the earth now without the bustle of millions. The Himalyanian mountains are no longer obscured by industrial pollution and are visible once again. Whether your faith tradition is people, nature, God we are all connected in this web and we have been choking each other and the planet. We have become overly distracted, resulting in anxiety and depression — just look to our young adults to see how they are plagued. Many want to demonize technology or social platforms as the culprit of anxiety and depression, but that seems too easy. As we have seen over the past several weeks technology has allowed us to stay connected to one another. Perhaps we should be more concerned with how we are using these tools, not whether or not they exist. We are by nature social beings even if we are at the moment being required to be apart physically. We can still connect and create communities. Seeing my friends laugh and even cry on Zoom this past week has filled my soul. I am just a text or call away. We may feel disconnected when we are not within physical proximity, but lean on your other senses. That’s why breathing and being still can be so central to us making the invisible visible.

Breathe Deeply

Ten years ago I started practicing Ashtanga yoga and it helped teach me how to breathe deeply. One of the central elements of this practice is both movement and holding poses while being very intentional about inhaling and exhaling from the base of your diaphragm and up through your throat and nose.

From the birds and flowers of the planet, to your friends or family at home or across the ocean, to our God, only love is real and love is all around, so be not afraid. Take one moment today, just one and breath the love in and exhale it out.

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