One: Breathe.

Breathing is this place where we tend to cheat ourselves: it’s almost like if you had access to your whole house, but you only lived in a third of it. Granted, you aren’t going to use every room in your house all the time, and there are rooms that get used more frequently- so your upper lungs are like the bathroom and the kitchen, and the lower lungs are the formal living room.

When I breathe fully I recognize myself physically, which connects me to myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It automatically slows me down, which then gives me presence. I actually think “Oh, here I am”.

The weird thing about this is that I have to think about it. Then I want to avoid it because I should know how to breathe already at 47 years, and because breathing is so basic. I had this idea that I had to do this big amazing breathing all the time and if I didn’t do it all the time I wasn’t doing it right. Bit by bit I started to understand that if I keep practicing it I am integrating the instruction that breathing settles me and my anxiety is less.

I also stopped holding my stomach in so that my respiratory system has some room. That stomach holding stuff is like living in your linen closet. My breath is precious and needs space, it needs to be out in the yard billowing freely on the clothesline, not in the dark on a hard shelf folded into neat corners.

Two: say “What’s my nature?”

Humans are so interesting.

We are all unique. Yet for some reason it seems like we all think we’re doing it wrong. At the same time we have a need to prove our rightness. It’s so confusing.

When I’m trying to be someone else I feel out of sorts, like using someone else’s toothbrush: I mean, I can do it, I just don’t really want to. When I feel like I’m supposed to do something I get anxious that I’m going to do it wrong and then I end up not making thoughtful decisions that often result in having to backtrack when if I’d just used my own toothbrush I’d be fine.

So I started studying my nature. Like, what’s my nature? What am I actually like?

I became interested in this because my normal body temperature is low- 97.6 usually. My blood pressure is low- 98/60. My favorite season is winter. My favorite weather is rainy. My favorite color is grey. I connected all that: my nature is slow. I’m a hibernator.

More of it came together: my thinking processes are fast. I like to get up early. Go to bed early. I like wearing the same thing over and over. I am fiercely independent but I like to be told what to do.

Now I have an idea of what the basics of my nature are, so I’m not this big mystery using a bunch of strange toothbrushes. The phrase “Wait, I know what I’m like” has saved me so much energy. So when I start to berate myself for not being/doing like someone else I practice remembering my unique Amy nature, add breathing, and it helps. It helps me recognize myself as one and all.