Category Archives: Made to Move
In the anxious of always, this
I awaken into the new day. Already my mind is considering all that has been. Is contending with all I might do or be needed to do. Do I pause...to ponder The ordered way land, sea and sky meet, as the sun peers through the trees the clouds form and fold the light sparkles on the lake soft ripples hint of a soft breeze. That my lungs fill with fresh air perfectly composed to supply blood, uniquely equipped to carry cells, satisfied and content. That my legs lift and support me, step one foot to the other with balance on sturdy ground that promises to carry me into the day. Do I consider this ... the ordinary? that the day will take shape as it does and always has. that intake of air will refresh again and again. that gravity will have its way as it has this day and every day. This ordinary. This gift. This miracle. Not guaranteed Not promised Not deserved And yet, why? why do I overlook it? why do I suppose it? why do I rush past it? Why do I forget to give thanks? In the anxious of always, we've been given the ordinary to make life out of.
Take a Deeper Breath
I’m huffing and puffing my way up the steep rocky path toward the gorgeous mountain lakes my companion has promised lie ahead. It is Rocky Mountain National Park, after all. It’s no surprise that the air is thin, but this doesn’t hamper him. He lives a mile high and trains for triathlons in the parks, reservoirs and along the roads nearby.
“I could use a 10 second break,” I plead. He obliges and we step aside to let the nimble and altitude-acclimated bound on by. A few who pass by on their downward trek offer us an encouraging, “You’re doing great!”
As I pause, my friend says sympathetically and so simply, “I find it helps to take deeper breaths.”
At the suggestion, of course, I inhale a deep breath and then draw it deeper. And you know what? It worked! As we continued, when my breath quickened and my heart started to race on the steep parts, instead of huffing and puffing and pressing on so I wouldn’t seem like a wimp, I just expanded my lungs a bit deeper on each breath.
Deeper. Slower. Stronger. I’ve heard they call this combat breathing. I call it respite in the Rockies.
And, me being me, I find myself mind-meandering through my long-ago (and mostly far away) respiratory physiology classroom training. How does that work again? At higher altitude the partial pressure of O2 in the air and my lungs is lower… the sign at Pikes Peak said 60%, I believe, much lower than the 98% I am used to at sea level … which means that there is plenty of room for more O2 saturation in my blood stream. More inhalation means more air available which provides more O2 available to be exchanged. Right? And with lots more blood coursing through that pulmonary circulation thanks to my hardworking heart which was pumping fast and faster, my deeper breaths were DOing something!
Ok OK. Miraculous and scintillating as that science-speak is, what I am captured by as I look back on this trek that, yes, I survived, is the simplicity of “Take a Deeper Breath.” It reminds me…
You have reserves you don’t realize.
You have untapped flexibility and capacity you can call upon.
And BONUS! One good thing leads to another! Deeper breathing activates a whole (parasympathetic) neural reflex that triggers calming.
All this flies in the face of the push harder, exert more, breathe faster-shallower, hyperventilation scenario it seems our world inclines us to visit these days. Sure, quick, shallow breaths may work in a pinch (like in a panic attack) because, by allowing us to blow off extra CO2, they trick our brain into thinking we don’t need to breathe. Underwater divers make use of this at their own peril.
But we, the anxious lot of us, adopt it in error and to our own disadvantage. We need to breathe. And rather than shallow, we need to go deeper. Rather than faster, we need to go slower. Deeper. Slower. By choice.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
How much of my day is spent reacting and responding with faster, faster? How much more capacity would I find if I replaced shallower with deeper? Faster with slower? What if I trusted that My Maker had already provided the means for me to climb the mountain? Any mountain? If only I listened to the voice of my capable companion?
As we ascended and came nearer to the mountain lake, those returning from their trek greeted us with smiles and happy shouts of, “You’re almost there!” How can you not smile at encouragement like that?!
Oh and the vistas did NOT disappoint.
Take a deeper breath. So simple.
I wonder what other resources one might discover in listening and complying with the voice of Wisdom and Experience while we climb this steep, rocky path called life…
The undeniable evidence of your senses
Nothing is certain these days, it seems. Or perhaps one might say, nothing is certain except uncertainty.
That feels especially true when I put my trust in things I can see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Yep, the evidence of my own senses seems to betray me these days. Even old familiar things are tempting to disbelieve. Especially when our collective perceptions are so divergent.
But it’s always been so. And actually I find that reassuring. Because in the midst of differing opinions and the drawing of different conclusions, each has its own validity… in a way. And that might, if you go along for the unexamined ride, convince you that there is nothing to trust and no one to believe in.
OR … it might send you searching for understanding by diving deeper. For me, the resource that never disappoints is the human body. I never cease to find something enlightening, explanatory and remarkable, yet so astoundingly simple that it sits me down and shuts me up.
I mean, just consider how you see, hear, touch, taste and smell!
For times when the darkness around you makes it hard to see, God designed a pupillary dilation mechanism to let just the right amount of light in.
For times when the sound of confusion surrounds you, God designed a cochlear hearing system which resonates uniquely to every pitch.
For times when gentle caress feels distant, God designed subdermal pressure receptors so sensitive they leave you giddy at the touch of a ladybug or the tickle of a feather but alert you to a creeping spider.
For times when life’s bitterness threatens to spoil your table fellowship, God designed other tastebuds activated by sweet, sour, salty and savory for balanced seasoning.
For times when the stench of evil and injustice suffocates, God designed olfactory epithelium to compel you to seek refreshment and renewal by the winds of the Spirit of hope.
It’s amazing to think, isn’t it, that the complexity that is each of us could possibly have begun with just two single cells and 26 sets of information. But it’s so. Quite a Designer that must have been… must be…. and is even now as we go through life adapting and responding to what comes.
Who in the world would ever have thought of all that?
Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.John 10:37-38