Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tools for the Journey #12 - Exhale Yourself
As rusty-hued autumn colors wash over me and all around me in these days of seasonal change and dwindling light…I am reminded once again of the impermanence of life. Just as springtime is a burst of life and color and things “becoming”…there is also this season of putting things to bed, of quieting down. The garden, the patio furniture, the summer sandals and swimsuits – all tucked away for the coming colder, more inward-reflective time. The changing seasons of the year always has me mindful of the changing seasons of life. This year these thoughts are particularly laden because my precious husband has stage IV cancer. Despite his diagnosis we endeavor to reside in a place of faith rather than fear and some days we are successful…other days not so much.
Lately as I ponder thoughts of life and death I have been reflecting on some wisdom my former Aikido sensei, Wendy Palmer, gave to me many years ago:
"Your inhale is what you take in; it is the gift the World has for you. But your exhale is what you give back to the world...so be very careful how you exhale yourself."
When we are born the very first thing we do is we inhale; we must take this first breath and it is our arrival gift from the World. The very last thing we do when we die is we exhale - we give back the gift we first took in. We come in taking but we go out giving and all the time in between those two points we have a choice about how we exhale ourselves.
As I have walked through my daily life in all the years since Wendy was my sensei I have worked to stay mindful of my exhale. However, these days I have a significantly heightened awareness; I am attempting to stay centered, grounded as I watch Paul valiantly fighting this horrid disease. It is far easier to be centered when not faced with incomprehensible loss…but “Center is not referenced on loss”, Wendy would say, “it references on what is emerging and what is possible”.
So for today, for this moment I strive to stay centered and look to what is possible. To help me in my endeavor I am leaning heavily on the “tools” Wendy gave me all those years ago in a dojo in Marin County. As I pull these tools out and hold them up to the light it serves as a reminder of how even the “old tools” remain useful - have their place in the order of things - and don’t need to get tucked away even when the "seasons" change!
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale...and the cycle goes on and on. Wendy's words echoing in my ears have value still:
"Be mindful of how you exhale yourself."
It is my wish, my hope, my fervent prayer that my exhale might one day become a “tool” which someone else will pull out and use to prop themselves up, help them through a tough season, just as Wendy’s wisdom from so many years ago is propping me up today.
Blessings on your journey!
"If the body is a light bulb and it burns out, does that mean there's no more electricity? The source of the energy remains. We can discard the body and go on. We are the source." - Joseph Campbell