Taking a Full Breath

I usually mention “being present” or “being in the moment” in my posts but until I read Elizabeth Mitchell’s inspirational post, I did not realize how often I am my own obstacle. When I read Elizabeth’s words of “get out of your own way,” it occurred to me that I am only in the moment when I am not standing in my own way.

Here is another way to consider it: I am my greatest obstacle when I am least aware that I am aware, the opposite of Michael Singer’s definition of consciousness, “being aware of being aware…the seat of Self.”

When we are in “the seat of Self,” we immerse ourselves in each moment for the experience of it, allowing all of it to pass through us completely, not holding onto a single breath. It is as basic as inhaling and exhaling, the essence of living.

Breathing/living completely requires constant awareness and attention; if we get sidetracked, we attach first to this, then to that and we find ourselves short of breath. Our physiology constricts; our head is over our heart. We need to get out of our own way.

Currently, I am participating in Kristen Lamb’s two-month, online blogging course, which I highly recommend for all bloggers; I am about to engage in writing the initial draft of a second novel; I have a nonfiction manuscript that requires revision; the response to my blog pleases me more and more every day. Every one of these is an opportunity if I breathe fully and do not attach.

Fortunately, I have the luxury of being older as well as being chronically ill, and I’m serious in my application of the word luxury to both advantages.

Aging provides me a considerable archive of experience—albeit one of attachment—yet I pause, mainly because I’ve been there, done that, which is not being present. I catch myself relying on the known, which does not fit as it once did. So, I am considering the class, my writing, and this blog–each for what it is–through perspectives unknown to me. It is taking some time but in understanding that the moment is all I ever have, time is yet another luxury for me.

As I have written numerous times, chronic illness keeps me more in the moment than any resource in my life and as such, I  discovered worlds I would never have known, and there are so many more! Every day, I meet people with the most extraordinary stories, constant sources of inspiration and information.

Always, I am grateful for  my readers and for the incredible insight that so many of you reveal in your comments as well as in your correspondence with me. Frankly, your response is humbling and energizing. It keeps me on the search for blog post topics. Truly, I thank you.

As I reorganize and reconstruct, I am taking a break from blogging, returning on October 28.  As usual, Mark Nepo succinctly describes the coming and going that is living:

“Being human, there are endless times we need to be still and as many times that we need to move. But much of our confusion as modern citizens comes from trying to have the one we are more comfortable with substitute for the other.”

13 thoughts on “Taking a Full Breath

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – I really enjoy reading your posts; your words carry a sense of calm which is so important to us all, and which we lose in the hurly-burly of the day.

    My mother, who taught yoga for over a quarter century before retiring (eventually) from it, always stressed the importance of breathing to me; a lesson I took with offspring-like dismissal at first. But very true (and, I mean, you’re meant to get wisdom from your mum). It is something, I think, that the eastern approach handles far better than western. Philosophically, and certainly physically; the two go together in many ways. Western society teaches us to suck in the stomach when breathing in – which compresses the lungs and dis-allows proper breathing. Eastern thinking teaches the inverse – to descend the diaphragm – to expand the body with the breath, to feel the fullness of it. If we breathe properly, our systems work as intended – and we are integrated, whole systems, including mind and body; not collections of components (another western conceit reflecting the compartmentalisation of learning). Breath is part of it.

    Thank you again!


    1. So glad you enjoy my posts, Matthew. Once again, you so clearly delineate the East-West approach to life; who would ever believe it is as basic as every breath we take. Beautifully written, Matthew. Imagine the integrative possibilities!



  2. The scheduling of life–not the doing–is what most wears me out. Perhaps holding still and moving each have their times, but holding still is looking more and more attractive–it requires so little planning.


  3. Wow, so much going on–and a clear idea of your priorities.
    I’ve just begun learning t’ai chi, and therefore “taking a full breath” resonates. Be sure to exhale fully, as well! And enjoy your blogging break.


  4. Your posts resonate long after I read them. This gem (“Fortunately I have the luxury of being older as well as being chronically ill”) shows how it is possible to turn what could be negative, a challenge, something that would prevent us from reaching our goals, into a source of good. Reading your blog strengthens my commitment. Whatever you wish from your hiatus, I hope it comes to you as easily as the next breath — and that you return.


    1. Thanks, Beth! Not everyone appreciates my view of chronic illness yet for me, it has proven to be one of the greatest gifts I have. Enjoy your trip to Africa.



  5. Another post for me to identify with (in part anyway!) and take heart from, Karen. I am becoming increasingly reliant on you to provide these new insights so thank you and enjoy your (short) break from blogging to regroup/recoup, best wishes, Diana.


  6. Hi Karen,
    Another thought provoking and insightful post, I so look forward to your blogs as reading them reminds me to pause, breathe and observe. I find the reference to being your own obstacle familiar because just around the time I began to delve into learning meditation practice, I was also participating in traditional therapy. I vividly remember saying to the therapist, “I know what I have to do, I just have to figure out how to get out of my own way.” So funny how we can so easily become our own obstacles. I believe finding the way to step out of our own way, which for me usually involves doing less and allowing things to just be, is the key to truly experiencing moments of awareness and calm. Great tip about the blogging course and definitely something I plan to look into, thank you for sharing. It sure sounds like your plate is full and when that happens, I am a firm believer in stepping back and restructuring. That being said, I wish you the best with all your endeavors and I know I am not the only one who will be looking forward to your return. My best to you, Stephanie.
    PS Chip is fine, his results from surgery were benign growth and no additional worries. Thanks for the positive thoughts for the little guy. : )


    1. So glad to hear that Chip is fine, Stephanie! I was wondering about him.

      I am finding that meditation provides me clarity or as you say, doing less and less and being. I suspect it is the stillness that is meditation; it simply quiets my day.

      Thanks for the kind words and thoughtful comment, Stephanie.



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