Social Distancing Week 46…Deep Breaths

Friday, January 29, 2021…11:19am

The end of week 46.

In California we’ve once again moved out of a full stay at home order and back into a tiered system where activities are allowed (or not) based on rate of infection in a county. So if we wanted to to dine at a restaurant outdoors we could – but we still won’t because although hospitalization rates have decreased, overall infection rates are still almost double what they were back in the summer. We didn’t feel good about outdoor dining in the loveliness of summer so in winter it’s definitely a no go. But the lifted orders also mean hair salons are open once again so I am eagerly anticipating my long overdue cut and color this afternoon.

This week also was full of several little moments of joy as several beloved older people in my life received their first dose of the COVID vaccine. I cried tears of joy and relief when my parents got their first dose and every time somebody else I love gets a vaccine it feels like I can breathe a little easier. I have begun to wonder this week if I’ve actually been holding my breath for the past 11 months. Each vaccinated person in my immediate sphere is like a little dose of extra hope and is accompanied by the gift of deeper and cleansing breaths for me.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week thinking about the connection between my perceived ability to breathe better as loved ones are vaccinated; and the reality that COVID-19 often attacks lungs reducing a person’s actual ability to breathe. As I’ve noted my easier breathing this week, I’ve also been mindful of the fact that in the upside down of life during the pandemic I have allowed myself to stray from a long held and deeply grounding spiritual practice – breath prayer.

Breath prayers is quite simply a prayer or petition linked to the rhythms of breathing. The prayer is made up of two parts – words of praise or a name for God on the inhale and a request or petition on the exhale. It is a centuries old practice which grounds us in universal truth that prayer and connection are often as simple as breathing.

Breath has power. It gives us life and sustains us. Our voice and our words are powered by breath. Breathing is involuntary, and yet in the midst of crisis or chaos we sometimes have to be reminded to breathe. We can take for granted the very thing that coronavirus is stealing from those who are infected – full, deep, cleansing and healing breaths.

I remembered this week that the ritual of breath prayer centers me on the here and now when my mind tries to race to the “what ifs”. Breath prayer connects me to my body and to God. Breath prayer calms my jittery nerves and fills me with a peace that wants to be actively shared. Breath prayer makes it possible for me to be present and available to those who need me most. And so I am breathing and praying for the courage to hold onto the one thing that has kept me from breathing deeply in recent months.

Deep breaths in – God of light and love. Deep breaths out – allow me to hope.

I’m breathing easier and deeper. My hope feels stronger. My body and my soul are still weary, but I’m remembering to breathe. Be well my friends.

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