WES Blog — Keep breathing

I was tempted for this blog to just send you the link to this meditation and leave it there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Q8D6n-3qw. And I really do encourage you to check it out–it’s a visual meditation that invites you to match your breathing to the expanding and contracting shape. Breathe in as the shape expands, out as it contracts, for a minute (you can find some that last for ten minutes, too, or you can repeat). Really. Go breathe. I’ll wait.

This is a highly anxious moment in our country–among the more anxious I’ve felt. It seems that every week we hear about another set of civil rights eroded or another act of violence spurred by hate. Many of you, I know, have been working to get out the vote this fall, and I suspect almost all of us will be nervously watching or listening to the news this evening as voting results come in.
I have been thinking a lot recently about how the anxiety in the country shows up in our own lives. I know it can show up in my parenting sometimes, in how I’m able to be present to my kids (who don’t necessarily know why I’m stressed). It can show up in my response to conflict, as I layer global concerns on top of whatever is really happening in front of me. It can certainly show in our congregational systems. Anxiety: it can show up everywhere.
So I have been reminding myself to breathe. Three deep breaths, in and out, anytime I need it. A minute or two of breathing where I work to make my exhale twice as long as my inhale. A luxurious five minutes with a cat on my lap, breathing with no particular timing but just enjoying the moment.
I can tell I need to breathe (well, to breathe extra–I do breathe on a regular basis!) when my body starts feeling off. Perhaps you have some trigger like that…your body figuring out you are anxious even before your head catches up. I get cold, or my stomach hurts. Some people feel especially tired, or feel an ache in their shoulders. Noticing those signals that our bodies send us, and responding with care and attention and breath, can be so helpful.
So that’s my revolutionary advice on this anxious day, at this anxious time, in this anxious world. When your body tells you to breathe, breathe. When you are having a big emotional reaction to something that isn’t so big, breathe. And when you are having a big reaction to something that is very big indeed, breathe. Breathe in, and out, and join us on Sundays and we’ll breathe together.