Monday, October 17, 2016

Trusting the breath

I am up early on this Monday morning because I could not sleep any more. I could not sink back into sleep, despite the pillow, despite the warm, rebreathed air and the weight of the blankets. Swirls of thought, insistent lines of melody stood between me and sleeping till sunrise. Too much weekend--concerts, conversations, dressing up and dressing down, too much to think about in the circular way one thinks while trying fruitlessly to go back to sleep. 

Time for clothes and coffee, organizing principles of my mornings. And ten minutes of sitting meditation. 

Sounds peaceful, yes? I started doing this first-thing-in-the-morning meditation over the summer--five minutes, seven, then ten, seated cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. Breathe in, breathe out, this moment. Now. Inevitably both body and mind revolt. My spine does not like to be stacked tall on my tailbone. My brain does not like to be still. Whatever part of me is not body and brain fights them for control and then has to be reminded to do this all gently, harmoniously, noticing the battle but returning to the breath. 

The breath, I guess, would be the part that is not brain or spine. Yes, it's made of air and molecules and oxygen drawn into lungs and blood and tissue. It's receptor cells, it's a mechanical vacuum. It's movement of muscles that move without thought and with it. But it's also mystic. 

Outside, inside, the sea I swim in, the source of consciousness, of life. 
Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
To trust that breath, to notice it, to let it calm both mind and spine, is to trust God--creator, redeemer, sanctifier, spirit.

And if those breaths become panicky, shallow, difficult? What does it mean to trust God there too?

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