As we enter summer, I realize I think of this as a time to slow down, a time to breathe. Breathing also gives me a chance to connect, with something deeper in me, and something bigger than me.
I took a day yesterday, to move slower and breathe. I wandered out into the back yard, and fiddled with my tomato plants, added some supports because they are growing fast! I looked at the cucumbers and helped guide some of the finger-like growth to the places I had created with string and vertical supports, and saw them begin to grab and curl to support the cukes that will come later. I planted some herbs and squash. I talked to the pepper plants and told them how excited I was that I could see itty-bitty baby peppers on them. I asked the carrots if I had planted them too close together. I have not yet received an answer. I basked in the beauty of a day that was not too warm or too humid. For some gardening is work. For me it is grounding, and stress-reducing. I get to breathe. I forget about the things that worry me, the things that I think I “should” be doing, the ways I should be more perfect or accomplished. I am a part of a big world--one that I can be a part of, but it isn't all about me. It makes me more present of the world right in front of me.
Most major religions and spiritual practices focus in some way on breath. The Hebrew word ruah denotes wind, breath and spirit. In Greek, the word pneuma is the same. If you have ever practiced mindfulness meditation, you are accustomed to allowing yourself to find your center in the act of breathing.
As we enter the summer, I hope you will take time to breath—breath out the tensions—cars that need to be fixed; the stack of things that scream at you from your desk or to do list; the people you feel you need to please or pacify; the texts and Facebook posts that demand your attention; the headlines that tell you our world could fall apart any minute; the voices that tell you that your need to strive to be more perfect, or that you are not enough. I hope you breath in—the beauty of the day, gratitude for the people you love, gratitude for the freedom to pay attention, for the people who have come before us who have made a difference, and those who will come after us, breath in the knowledge that you are beloved. Then look around you and remember that the people you see are all beloved too. None of us have to be perfect, or brilliant, or rich or popular.
And take some time, whatever time you can, to savor and rest in that great big beautiful breath.