I recently attended a meditation facilitated by a traditional healer and as per usual (for guided meditation at least) he invited us to become aware of our breathing. This is a familiar space for me. Personally, I am quite comfortable with my breath and am well aware of the positive effect it has on my health and well-being. While I got into the flow of my breathing, I felt myself sink into the wall behind me, feeling it support the weight of my body. As I felt my breathing slow down and become deeper the facilitator invited us to imagine breathing as if we were the walls of the room we sat in. This request immediately made me feel uncomfortable. 

“The walls?” I thought to myself. How could I possibly breathe like the walls? Luckily, I have had enough “odd” experiences that I knew to trust the process. So, I went back to my breathing and tried to feel the wall behind me breathe. Slowly I started feeling bigger. I started to feel the flow of the breathing walls. The facilitator went on to explain that if we, as the walls, stop breathing or resist the flow of breath, everyone in the room would suffocate. Each one of us are both the breathing walls and the people reliant on the walls to breathe. We both give and take of the lifegiving oxygen from the breathing walls.

You can't pour from an empty cup

The phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is often used to motivate people to invest in selfcare and prioritize refilling the cups. However, we have been conditioned to sacrifice ourselves for others. In fact, this sacrifice is often celebrated as a selfless act of service. Whether it is being a parent, a partner, an employee, a caregiver or whatever role you find yourself in. We honor those who so selflessly serve and in the process wither away, or gasp for air. What if the idea of the breathing walls is true? What happens when the walls stop breathing? Those inside suffocate. When we allow ourselves to slowly stop breathing not only do we suffer the consequences, but those inside the walls of our hearts do too. You can’t pour from an empty cup. But what if it’s not the content of the cup that matters but the cup itself. We are both the walls and those inside.

Question the "Supposed To"

As I am growing and becoming, I am realizing more and more that we need to be questioning the “Supposed To’s.” “I need to wither away as I carry the weight of those around me” is a supposed to. I call bullshit. Imagine a world where we each take pride and ownership of our flow of breath and our health. Choosing yourself is not vain, it is a necessity. When I am constantly gasping for air not only do I suffer but those sitting within the walls of my heart also suffer. I am not an isolated being and I don’t have to do this alone for I am both the walls and the people within the walls. Just as much as I am reliant on my flow of breathing, I am reliant on the flow of breathing of the people who love me. Sometimes this might get too much, and breathing is difficult. We are not alone.

We are worth being a priority

We owe it to ourselves and to those we love to prioritize our breathing. Make space and time for your breath, and when you have forgotten how it feels to breathe without strain and fear reach out. There are people wanting to sit with you and hold space for you as you rediscover your flow. Just as you would fight without avail to seek help for those you love, you need to seek the support you are so worthy of receiving.

Prioritizing your flow and rhythm is not selfish but vital to yourself and others.

Photo credits:

Unsplah – Donnie Rosie

Unsplash – Nikola Johnny Mirkovic

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