The word interconnectedness often comes off as woo-woo or new age-y, but I wish it didn't. In fact, I often find myself incredulous when people fail to see the interconnectedness in our lives. We learn early on about cause and effect, action and reaction. Yet we often fail to see, or choose not to see, how our actions affect others and our surroundings. That we so often live in haste, craving instant gratification from our actions, demonstrates carelessness, often at the expense of something else.
As a liberal Portlander this is hard to admit, but I have a nasty habit of throwing recycling in the trash when I'm too lazy to figure out which bin it goes in. (I'm working on it...) I tell you this because we are all guilty of being negligent, at least some of the time. We want to do what is good for ourselves, and we should, but I think we should also be more deliberate in our actions. Remind ourselves that we are all connected and that everything we do has some sort of effect.
I mostly bring this up because it's something I've been working on - generally moving slower, acting more carefully, and thinking more thoroughly. Haste makes waste, guys, haste. makes. waste.
One way I've been thinking about all of this is in the way I've been teaching pranayama/breath work in my classes. As teachers, we often repeat phrases over and over and over again. Every once in awhile we need to re-evaluate those phrases. I have a lot of moments where I ask "what the hell did I just say, and why did I say it?" I often talk about inhaling the good and exhaling the bad. Good in, bad out. Lately, though, that hasn't really been doing it for me. I haven't been loving the concept of releasing "the bad" out into the rest of class. It feels a lot like blowing cigarette smoke into someone else's face. I love a good sigh, a good release, and the image of exhaling out all the stuff that isn't serving me - but I think it is time to change it up a bit. To use the breath as a way to think more deliberately in the hopes that I will also act more deliberately.
As a related aside - the lungs are amazing. I mean, the whole body is amazing, really, but I've always been in the most awe of the lungs, heart, and liver. We breath without having to think about it. Unlike all of the other functions of the autonomic nervous system, though, we can control our breath. We cannot focus on the digestive system and digest differently, but we CAN focus on our breath and breathe differently. That is such a gift.
The lungs are also attentive and compassionate in carrying out their function. They take in what you need - oxygen and release what the trees and the Earth need - carbon dioxide. I love this. The breath knows what's up. It's taking care of you and the plant life around you. Good in, good out.
Perhaps we can think about the breath differently and bring more attention to it as a way to remind ourselves of our connection to each other. Maybe the way we breathe can affect the way we act.
Next time you have a moment try it out. Find a comfortable seated position. Rest your hands comfortably on your thighs with the right palm facing up and the left palm facing down. This is representative of your ability to both give and receive. Now, start to take in breath and release it out. Imagine taking in what you need on the left side and releasing something good on the right side. Maybe you take in strength and release love. Breathe in softness and exhale courage. Draw in determination and give away compassion. It can be anything. Notice what you need and notice what you have to give. Good in, good out. And, maybe, carry that attitude with you wherever you go.
How did that feel? Please feel free to leave comments!