Keep Breathing

“Keep breathing. If you keep breathing, eventually something changes.” – Krishna Das.

This quote popped up in my Facebook memories from a few years ago and even though I can’t remember why I posted it, it’s almost a sure thing that I was anxious.

I’ve written about Krishna Das on the blog before and it’s mainly because I absolutely love his music. He has such a deep and soulful timbre to his voice. Listening to his music is honestly like wrapping myself in the warm blanket of his words.

He’s also such a wise human with so many things to share. I’ve listened to a lot of his workshops and talks and there’s always so much wisdom there. I don’t always agree with everything he says and my world view is similar and also not, but there’s always something to take away from what he says.

But that quote? “If you keep breathing, eventually something changes.” – it gets me every time.

Everything ends and begins with the breath.

When I’m anxious, I breathe.

When I’m angry, I breathe.

And when I’m hurting, I breathe.

I don’t just mean breathe. I mean breathe breathe. The kind of exhalation of air that carries some of the emotions out with it.

Years ago, I was going through a period of incredibly intense anxiety. I’m talking about waking up in the morning with panic attacks and crying in the shower because everything was just too much and the thought of having to leave for work gave me heart palpitations and adrenaline spikes. It had gone on that way for months.

I was at work, and I remember exactly where I was standing and I took this breath. This deep, long, belly breath – and in that moment, as cliched as it sounds, I felt like I was in a movie and light from the heavens was shining down on me – that one inhale and exhale made something sharply click into place and I felt the weight on my chest lessen.

I was finally breathing again.

Breathing – taking deep, intentional, breaths – is the first thing I do whenever I get hit by a wave of strong emotions.

Breathe and reassure myself that whatever my anxiety is saying isn’t true.

Breathe and make a mental to-do list so that I can whittle down whatever is overwhelming me.

Breathe when I feel like my heart is breaking.

Breathe when anger makes me feel like I’m on the verge of losing control.

I have learned that the moment I take that breath – things start to get better. Even if it’s only incrementally. Breathing like that is a choice. One tiny choice in the direction of getting better instead of holding it all in.

I just really love the quote and what it represents to me and what it reminds me to do.