Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I started listening to this book on Audible during my morning walk last week. I had just completed the introduction and told Self: “This is a book you’ll never forget.

And YOU will likely say, why should I bother. Or as a line from Nestor’s intro says: “But why do I need to learn how to breathe? I’ve been breathing my whole life.”

Exactly what I said.

Now, I can’t get this book out of my head.

Every breath, a gift.


Excerpts from the Introduction:

“90 percent of us—very likely me, you, and almost everyone you know—is breathing incorrectly and that this failure is either causing or aggravating a laundry list of chronic diseases… This work was upending long-held beliefs in Western medical science. Yes, breathing in different patterns really can influence our body weight and overall health. Yes, how we breathe…

This book is a scientific adventure into the lost art and science of breathing. It explores the transformation that occurs inside our bodies every 3.3 seconds, the time it takes the average person to inhale and exhale…

It will take the average reader about 10,000 breaths to read from here to the end of the book. If I’ve done my job correctly, starting now, with every breath you take, you’ll have a deeper understanding of breathing and how best to do it. Twenty times a minute, ten times, through the mouth, nose, tracheostomy, or breathing tube, it’s not all the same. How we breathe really matters…

By your 3,000th breath, you’ll know the basics of restorative breathing…

By your 6,000th breath, you will have moved into the land of serious, conscious breathing…

By your 8,000th breath, you’ll have pushed even deeper into the body to tap, of all things, the nervous system…

By your 10,000th breath, and the close of this book, you and I will know how the air that enters your lungs affects every moment of your life and how to harness it to its full potential until your final breath…

By the law of averages, you will take 670 million breaths in your lifetime. Maybe you’ve already taken half of those. Maybe you’re on breath 669,000,000. Maybe you’d like to take a few million more.”

James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (Riverhead Books, May 26, 2020)


Notes:

We are all living the same moment.

Air is the gaseous substance of life. Sky is what we see of it. How it is framed. The mind’s eye’s way of giving it structure. Blue tent, sky-space, cobalt between heaving mountains.

Air is all over us, inside us, expelled by us, renewed by the operations of photosynthesis and the evaporation of ever-warmer seas.
Sky is ubiquity. It drives into us. We gulp weather. Yet we conceive of it as “out there,” “up there,” and apart from us. Sky is “scape,” a fictive reference point to which we cling, yet it also stands for the open space we come to know as an ever-expanding, cosmic whole…

It is spring as I write, and the world is locked down in a raging pandemic. We hold still while airborne germs wrapped in fat float and flap all around us, threatening our lives…

Sky is a living body, a lung that spews life. In China it is chi, a life force, or tianqi, “heaven’s breath.” In Greenland, it is sila, nature and consciousness. For the Navajo Nation, sky is Nitth’i, a benevolent spirit. The Crow, who live on the grasslands of Montana and Wyoming, call sky huche, meaning “wind that blows steadily at the foot of the mountain.” In Egypt, the dying summoned the god of air and said, “I have gone up to Shu; I have climbed the sunbeams.” …

Sky is nothing and everything: a blank that holds solar systems, locust swarms, heaven’s gates, kingfishers, and cosmos. It’s where the Big Bang flapped everything into being. Recently, 19 new interstellar asteroids were found orbiting the sun, and astronomers have uncovered the beauty of the asymmetrical universe, where the battle between matter and antimatter was waged. Matter and cosmic imperfection won out; otherwise, we wouldn’t exist. “Imperfection is our paradise,” a Buddhist teacher said…

Perhaps that’s the best way to think about the sky and the ways it binds and releases us. Looking up, we can all see the same things: the pink moon, sunrise’s glory, starlight, and the lovely, lonely curve of air. Our peripheral vision shapes what we think we are seeing. From my lookout on a moving dogsled, I’ve seen how the horizon’s silver stripe divides ice from air, mist from ocean, space from Earth, and dark from light as the blue tent floats down and softly covers us all.

~ Gretel Ehrlich, “We Are All Living the Same Moment” in The Atlantic (May 2, 2020)


Photo: DK, Cove Island Park, May 3, 6:43 am.

Sunday Morning

  • sit in the sun without anything to do, feel the heat of the rays hit your skin, realize that this sunlight has travelled a very long way to reach you
  • Walk around barefoot and try to feel as much of the ground under your feet as you can, notice every rock and blade of grass
  • Sit quietly for a while and notice the touch of breath in your nostrils, feel how the air gets cooler as you inhale and warmer as you exhale

~ sara, from “ways to start feeling again


Notes:

T.G.I.F.: Paws Up (60 secs)


Resort at Paws Up Montana. Longer video version here. (Thank you Christie!)

Lightly Child, Lightly


Notes:

  • Source: Famousfishathletecookie (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

That’s happiness.

“How can you be happy now?” the book seems to ask, and it has a point. The catastrophe of climate neglect, the toxic politics, the tangible sense of so many things worsening in your own lifetime, along with a sense of your obscure or outright complicity, all combined to make the idea of any possible happiness seem at best childish, at worse willfully blind…

When I came to write the new novel, I remembered a moment from our early days in Clare. We had left commuter Monday-to-Friday lives in New York to come to a rural farming community, seeking a simpler life that was truer to our natures, not yet knowing what exactly that was…

One of those first welcomers was Michael Dooley, a silver-haired farmer, turf cutter, man of the land of the old kind, who into his 80s, pedaled his big bicycle into the village.

Because Michael seemed to be working on the land all day every day, into the fall of darkness and beyond, and never complained, I once asked him if he ever took a holiday.

“A holiday?” He looked at me like the innocent I was.

“I mean, what do you do to be happy?”

The question was a novelty to him and he considered it from all sides before answering.

“When I want a holiday,” he said at last, “I go over the road as far as the meadow. I go in there, take off my jacket, and lay down on it. I watch the world turning for a bit, with me still in it.”

He smiled then, and held me in his blue Atlantic eyes, full of the ordinary wisdom of a well-lived life, a wisdom that saw the many failings of the world but our still breathing and dreaming in it, and with a conclusive nod that defeated all arguments said, “That’s happiness.”

~ Niall Williams, from “Is Anyone Happy Anymore? We’ve lost our ability to take comfort in small things.” Mr. Williams is the author, most recently, of the novel “This Is Happiness.” (The New York Times, Dec 21, 2019)


Notes:

Just look

Breathing, walking, having real hair.

Just look at us.

~ Rachel Khong, Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

 


Photo: Patty Maher

Saturday Morning. And then, little by little…

You must learn to stop being yourself. That’s where it begins, and everything else follows from that. You must let yourself evaporate. Let your muscles go limp, breathe until you feel your soul pouring out of you, and then shut your eyes. That’s how it’s done. The emptiness inside your body grows lighter than the air around you. Little by little, you begin to weigh less than nothing. You shut your eyes; you spread your arms; you let yourself evaporate. And then, little by little, you lift yourself off the ground.

Like so.

Paul AusterMr. Vertigo


Notes: Quote – Thank you Whiskey River. Photo: Jacqueline Green, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Photo by Richard Calms. (via Mennyfox55)

you breathed in peace…we seldom know what is irreplaceable

 


Notes:

  • Post title: “I can tell you that your eyes were at rest / As the momentous world moved beyond you, / And that you breathed in peace that quarter hour. / We seldom know what is irreplaceable. ~ Glen Coe, from “While You Slept” (via The Hammock Papers)
  • Butterfly gif via poppins-me

It hums, it throbs, it improvises.  So many voices. Only one song.

breathe

A cardinal, the very essence of red, stabs
the hedgerow with his piercing notes;
a chickadee adds three short beats,
part of the percussion section, and a white-
throated sparrow moves the melody along…
And today, the sun, waiting for its cue,
comes out from the clouds for a short sweet
solo, then sits back down, rests between turns.
On the other side of the world, night’s black
bass fiddle rosins its bow, draws it over
the strings, resonates with the breath
of sleepers, animal, vegetable, human.
All the world breathes in, breathes out.
It hums, it throbs, it improvises.  So many voices.
Only one song.

~ Barbara Crooker, from “One Song. After Rumi” in Line Dance


Photo credit: via your eyes blaze out. Poem: Beyond the Fields We Know

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