Isn’t that how every day is – unlike the previous day, unlike tomorrow? Always shifting and changing…that’s the reality I have been striving for these days.
Done with the monotony, done with same old same old, out with the old and in with the new.
But every moment is new, right?
What does it look like to truly honor the ever-transforming, unfolding moment of our lives? How would it change the way you experience your life if you were to continuously arrive in the now-ness of your BEing?
Sit with that for a moment and invite in a child-like sense of curiosity. Enter into a “beginner’s mind” and let go of old conditions and identity (unlearning is a life-long journey).
Breathe into an awareness that is unique every time you show up.
BE with the sensations of your breath. Notice your inhale; how it travels in through your nose, flows down your throat, expands your diaphragm, and settles deep into your lungs. Pay close attention to your exhale and the quality of your breath as it leaves your body. And feel the natural pauses in between; moments of stillness in the midst of the movement, like the ebb and flow of the oceans’ tide.
What do you notice?
What do you feel?
The breath is our life force – the first sign of life and the last. Our awareness of the breath is one of the most effective ways to settle into the present moment, the here and now, the now-ness of our BEing. When we become fully aware of this autonomic energy roaring inside of us we are gifted with the opportunity to mindfully direct its energy. And if you haven’t already experienced the many benefits of mindful breathing and the healing potential that IS the breath, I strongly encourage you, no, I eagerly insist that you spend just 5 minutes today BEing with your breath. Heck, 2 minutes if that’s all you have.
The point of all this?
Yes, breath is healing. There is a gigantic body of research that shows how breathwork offers a myriad of physiological benefits, such as lowering heart rate, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, boosting the immune system, decreasing cortisol, a stress hormone, which lowers the body’s inflammatory response. Deep breathing, especially in moments of anxiety or stress, can have an almost immediate response in the body – it’s absolutely magical.
And what else?
Awareness of breath = presence
Notice your breath, even just the inspiration, and BAM – you’re right here. And that ‘right here’ is always changing! As soon as you’re aware of ‘the moment,’ it’s already gone by.
The breath has the ability to teach us that EVERY SINGLE MOMENT is different; even if the differences are miniscule and would otherwise go unnoticed, the exchange of energy is happening. Every second each cell in your body is undergoing a metamorphosis – literally, in this very moment, your skin cells are dying, shedding, and regenerating. Every 60-90 seconds your blood is being recycled through your heart. After I’m done typing this paragraph, the blood that is pulsing through my body has changed and is new; not the same blood as 90 seconds ago.
And why am I writing about this?
Let me tell you…
Feeling into my own breath has helped me experience firsthand the power that this foundational force has to offer. The breath has taught me how to BE PRESENT in life, and thus has shaped how I show up in the world; remembering that each moment, each experience, each person I meet is, too, part of the unfolding. Beginner’s mind, right?
Just like today….
It was a day unlike any other day.
In the midst of week 2 of working for myself, I was still determining my “routine” of self-discipline. My motto had always been “I have routines but my routines change;” and they did so often. My tendency to also procrastinate had always been functional when I was being held accountable by a boss. However, now I was my own boss, and my business wasn’t going to run itself.
After feeding my dog and checking on my garden, stretching and engaging in my new health routines (looking forward to writing about all this!), I grabbed my computer and headed out the door to settle in at Aqus Cafe, one of my favorite places to drink coffee (one of the habits I’m working on clearing) and write.
Initially, I had this plan to write about my previous day’s healing experience – one filled with a lymphatic cleanse, a sauna and an ionic foot bath.
I went up to order my coffee from Amy, who always greeted me with a huge smile (hidden under her mask, but I could see it in her eyes).
It was less busy than I anticipated which left me with a lot of choices, however, I was drawn in particular to this one small table with the window behind it, facing to the west. It had a bench seat on one side and a wooden chair on the other.
Now for context, for the last few years I’d come to this cafe often to write. Nestled on the corner of an unassuming neighborhood block, Aqus Cafe, for me, was a Petaluma staple. There were a few regular tables that I sat at, given that they were open. On a sunny day like today, I would have sat outside; all tables were open. Two of the only tables that were located near an outlet to charge your laptop were open as well. In fact, most of the cafe inside was empty.
And yet, I was drawn to this small table; a table which I found out after I sat down to write, was wobbly and caused me to spill my coffee twice AND knock over my salad – luckily I was already finished and the loud clunk of the silverware didn’t cause too much of a stir. That table taught me to laugh at myself today – but I digress.
THAT table I’d only sat at once before, ever – and that was yesterday. I didn’t think anything of that, just noticed myself going to take a seat.
The cafe was mostly empty with more seating choices than ever and I chose a table directly next to one of the only people sitting in the cafe that morning.
“Do you work for Lagunitas Brewery?” A woman, whose name I soon found out was Monica, asked me, referring to the Lagunitas shirt I was wearing.
That particular shirt was gifted to me by my good friend Dave, another angel and “book shaman” on my journey (Dave always gives me the most amazing books at times when I need them most).
She zipped open her jacket to show me she was also wearing their brewery branded clothing.
We bantered back and forth about our shirts as I poured my coffee and set down my things and got my space ready to write. Monica explained that she was working from the cafe while waiting for her car to be worked on, at one of my most beloved mechanics in town, Out West Garage. She drove a few hours from home and had never been to this mechanic shop or Aqus.
“What are you working on?” I asked.
Monica explained how she works with athletes who choke under pressure, coaches kids struggling with SATs, people whose phobias are so debilitating that it disrupts their lives. She helped people release early-childhood trauma, neural accumulation that gets trapped in the body and has the ability to dictate our lives.
“I use techniques such as Tapping (EFT) and Neuro-linguistic Programming, and draw on areas of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, Meridian line awareness, and breathwork.” Monica explained that she was a massage therapist; a profession she chose to follow after she was told she had “healing hands.”
I shared with Monica a bit about my current healing journey and my learning to retrust my body, engage in alternative healing practices, and write about my experiences.
“Last week I did 5 days of a hydro-colon therapy cleanse and a liver cleanse, and two days ago I had the most profound Neuro-linguistic Deprogramming session; I literally feel like a whole different person.” I was excited to share my positive results with a fellow human who clearly worked with the body’s ability to heal itself.
From that point and for the next 2 hours, Monica and I connected on education, health, mysticism, trauma, alternative healing practices, family, and the structure of the psyche.
“NLD is like NLP but its working to undo the fear and sadness rooted in the body, stemming from a core wound.” I described my experience of my most recent session with Kevin. “We addressed a fear that was deep inside of me, living in my gut and in my root chakra. The fear was saying to me, “you are not ok just to BE.” (In the process of NLD, you give voice to the energies inside of your body.) This session, I gave voice to the fear; a fear I didn’t know was even there. And once I was able to clear the energy around that fear – HOLY WOW – (I don’t have the time right now to explain, but I’m absolutely different, lighter, more ok with my BEing-ness – I promise, I will report on this another day because my life has changed so much, with each passing day, and now using my breath, with each passing moment).
Monica was right there with me as I told my story. She felt my energy and understood the language I was speaking.
Yes, everything is energy. We live in a vibrational existence. We both understood this.
She shared with me some of her techniques and processes for moving the energy of limiting core beliefs and trauma. She called on the works of Bruce Lipton and Lynn McTaggart for inspiration when working with clients. That morning in the cafe she was studying one of Tony Robbins programs in preparation to work with athletes, with the goal of coaching during the Olympics in 2024.
Her energy was straight from the heart, full of life and light, with the intention of healing.
We talked about the regenerative nature of the body and mind and how our own consciousness played a vital role in our health, wellness and growth. This is what Bruce Lipton’s work is all about – The Biology of Belief; Monica referred to this book a few times. She told me about her near death experience as a child and how that shaped how she lived in her body.
I listened as she shared client breakthroughs, and how she was living her mission, one person at a time. Monica and I spoke about the development of the brain and how trauma that occurs at the ages of 0-7 gets trapped in the body. At ages 0-7, the limbic system (our fight-or-flight, safety part of the brain), sometimes referred to as the “lizard brain,” is taking in all of the information through the body. The prefrontal cortex, which is developed later and controls problem solving, personality, and ego, is not making logical sense yet – the brain just receives inputs and the body responds, creating neural pathways that set the foundation in our body. Thus, any trauma occurring during these stages gets trapped in the body as it is also wired in the brain, until it is released. Thank you, Monica, for doing this work.
As she explained a bit about the tapping technique, showing me with her hands and explaining some of the meridian points, I told her about my accidental overdose that happened last year, May of 2020.
I was dating this guy; we were together for 5 years. Earlier in 2020 we had gone on a break. I kind of already knew it was over with but after a few months of being on a break, we tried one more time. I knew that my story was intimate and revealing but I felt comfortable opening up to her. I had previously worked on clearing shame around my journey and somehow knew Monica was another angel on my path.
So, we made a date to hang out at his house. He had some ecstasy that night and we decided to partake. Well, he’s a lot bigger than me and had taken more and more throughout the night. There was one point in time where he urged me to do a little bit more. I had this initial gut feeling of ‘no, too much,’ however went against my better judgement and drank the kool aid. All was fine, until it wasn’t. In about 30 minutes from that moment I shot straight up from lying down on his bed. ‘I can’t breathe,’ I told him. It was in the height of the pandemic so I immediately went to a fear response of ‘I’m sick.’ I didn’t even give the drugs another thought. Long story short, for the next 4 HOURS, I did breath work, tried to meditate and stay calm, all the while feeling like I had to pay attention to every breath because it felt like if I stopped thinking about it, I would stop breathing.
I begged him to take me to the hospital. ‘Something is really wrong,’ I told him. He told me I was freaking out because of the virus.
At one point, I went outside to get fresh air because it literally felt like my brain was broken. I couldn’t form a single thought. The harder I tried, the most out of it I felt. Words were impossible and when I tried to speak, I felt the corners of my mouth curl up. My hands and feet cramped and my arms seized to my chest uncontrollably. I knew in my heart that something was really wrong. A few hours went by of this panic and breathwork and fresh air and finally, my boyfriend got tired and wanted us to lay down to try to sleep. As soon as I laid down to close my eyes and doze off for a second, I would shoot back up gasping for breath.
Finally around 4:30 am I drove myself to the ER. And damn good thing I did. They ran my blood work and my potassium was 2.7. They explained to me while swiftly hooking me up to an IV drip of potassium chloride (which lasted for the next 4 hours) that the brain stops working if potassium drops to 2.5 or below.
She listened as I told my story. I could feel the pressure in my chest, the left lung, right behind my heart, tense up. I sent a few breaths there and met her gaze with mine.
I noticed Monica was tapping the side of her left hand with intensity and intention.
I told her how that experience was a huge part of my healing journey and my resistance around breathwork had something to do with that.
Monica continued to tap and I noticed her eyes looking to the right of the cafe, as if lost in thought.
“That experience was traumatic but the fact that you’ve been working on clearing it and it’s still not totally cleared means there’s a deeper trauma, an older experience connected there, some action on your part. It has to do with that exact moment in time when you made the choice, when you felt you were going against yourself. That is where the real trauma is. If you can clear that, you will move the current stuck energy.”
I sat there for a moment in silence to process her insight and reflection.
Yes, that made a lot of sense to me as I thought through my journey thus far. My work has been about trusting my body again; identifying what is right for me, listening to that inner voice, and acting accordingly. Going against my intuition has been a regular pattern in my life, especially in relationships.
In reflecting on that overdose, I realized how I chose feeling loved by another person rather than facing the potential loss. However, I had been learning that losing myself, going against my Self, was far worse because that meant I had no love of self – true, unconditional understanding and compassion for the human experience. Lesson learned.
We continued to chat until her vehicle was ready. As I walked her out, she told me that she initially questioned her cafe of choice. “I stood outside for a while before I decided to come in, but now I know why I sat here; it was to meet you.”
No accidents, no coincidences. Something guided me to that table, to Monica, to another healer on the ever-changing, unfolding path. Monica later texted me and said if it weren’t for the Lagunitas t-shirt I was wearing, she probably wouldn’t have said a word to me.
There are angels everywhere in this world. Healers, guides, coaches, teachers, mentors. When you least expect, one will walk into your life, or be seated next to you at a cafe.
When I sat down to write this post, I thought to myself, ‘why am I writing about breath? Presence is so important, I know this, but I wasn’t planning on writing about breath.’
The trauma I shared, which is no longer a trauma but one of the greatest teachers in my life so far, involved the complete loss of breath; the breath which is most always an autonomic function in the body, something that most of us take for granted. It’s ok; it’s easy to do.
But if you struggle to breathe, or have had your breath taken away, you know the breath is our force of life. It allows the Spirit to flow through us until it’s gone.
Breath is our gateway to the here and now.
To this moment.
And when we are in the present, in the flow, in Spirit, magic happens.
Breathe it in. And breathe it out.
Check out more of my work: www.elevatedslacklining.com