breathing in breathless times

DSC07608Photo:  Paula Josa-Jones

Saturday evening, the barn where my horses, Capprichio and Amadeo live, called to say that Capprichio, my 28-year old Andalusian stallion, had a swelling on his jaw.  It was warm and tender.  I called the vet.  Since he had no fever and was eating, we decided to wait and see how he is today (Sunday).  This morning it was more swollen, more tender, but still no fever.  Because he has almost no teeth left and has previously had some dental concerns (I have two of his lost molars on my desk), and because he has a significant heart murmur, the vet came. After X-rays, ultrasound and looking inside his mouth, she decided to put him on antibiotics and continue to observe him.

All of this happened without my being able to see him. Covid19 has effectively shut down all the barns in the area. And so I find myself in another breathless time, feeling the penetration of this absence of breath and presence through my whole body.

Focusing on breathing can feel activating.  I remember having a panic attack during my first silent Vipassana meditation retreat when we were instructed to follow the breath.  What breath?  Suddenly this autonomic, and at the same time, voluntary function was terrifying and unmanageable.  I couldn’t breathe.

Many years ago, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen came to my home in Connecticut to give me a Body-Mind Centering session.  I don’t remember what we were intending to explore, but my time with her that day became a lesson on embryonic breathing.

Last week, Bonnie sent out an email to those of us in the Body-Mind Centering community with some links to videos that she felt might be helpful at this time.  Rather than try to describe them, I include them here, for your pleasure.

I have returned to exploring embryonic breathing as a practical, palpable way of settling body and mind.  In the first video, she speaks of this more subtle, cellular way of breathing as like ripples widening in a pond, rather than the larger waves of chest or belly breathing.  I find this subtle practice deeply nourishing albeit challenging and elusive.

In a recent webinar, dance therapist Amber Gray referenced a quote she had found about the relationship between chaos and creativity.   I found the reference, by Dr. Betty Luceigh:  ” Perhaps what we call chaos is actually creativity in the process of birthing new ordered forms.”

That is my experience in the pandemonium of this pandemic.  I feel myself pushed and pulled into new creative expression and experience.  I am fascinated by the differences in how this shows up – sometimes as wild movement, other times as deeper stillness and reflection.  A study in contrasts. It feels a bit like riding an intemperate and unpredictable horse – be calm, be ready, and most of all stay in the saddle.

Enough for now.  Enjoy these videos, and the exquisite presence and generosity of Bonnie.

Sending love and prayers for all.



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