Breathe. We do this all day everyday subconsciously. Think about it: we never focus on breathing until something makes us stop breathing. Holding your breath, having an anxiety attack, crying so hard you can’t breathe, so on and so forth.
Before last Monday, I wasn’t breathing. I signed up to take a Koru Mindfulness course taught by one of my lovely sorors/friends, Tiara Cash (I wrote about her a while ago in the Special Spotlight Section). This four week course is supposed to help us be mindful and be in the present using meditation skills. I’ll be honest, I signed up for the class for two reasons: the first being, I wanted to support my soror. If anyone else would have posted something about them teaching a meditation class, I would have encouraged others to sign up and probably wouldn’t have participated myself. This is as honest as I can be. The second reason I signed up is because I never take the time to be in the moment with myself. I am constantly on the go at work and after. The pressure of not really knowing what I’m doing in writing my dissertation has me overwhelmed with a constant dormant headache. So, I believe God placed this class in my lap with someone I trust for a reason.
The course is an online virtual course on Zoom. Last Monday, the first class, started off awkward for me. I was nervous to be doing breathing exercises over the computer with about 4 or 5 other strange women I’ve never met before. The comforting part was that of course, my soror was the instructor. After she explained the plan for the 4-week course, she led us through our guided first meditation. She had us center ourselves and practice inhaling and exhaling.
Notice your breath…inhale…and release…
As I was breathing, I felt differently than I did just 10 minutes prior to the exercise. I felt as if I was having an out of body experience. The pressure I was holding on to instantly rose to the surface of my body and on the 5th to last exhale, I felt that pressure release. I was crying and didn’t realize it until I heard the sound of the chimes indicating to us that the exercise was complete. Cash asked us some guiding questions about the experience and I was almost speechless.
I haven’t taken the time to recognize my breathing. I’m always on the go and find myself taking quick, short breaths just to get through the day. I haven’t seen my therapist in almost two months and not seeing her has had a major effect on my mental health. I talk to my friends sometimes about all of the things I have going on but I try not to overwhelm them. I use my therapist to really be open. During the two short months I’ve been away from her, life slapped me in the face like Nipsey Hustle (rest in peace) did that guy outside the 2018 BET Awards. [if you need to see what I mean, here’s the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV35i7FdOvs)
I had to get all new tires and a car battery on my car, I had knee surgery, my aunt passed away, behind on my dissertation proposal, trying to figure out how to keep my blog afloat, found out my apartment complex is raising my rent. I mean the list goes on. Whole time I’m just dealing and continuing to go day-to-day like nothing is wrong. I had good days in between the rough patches but my mind was steadied on the turmoil. Smiling through the chaos. I didn’t know how much I was holding my breath as I moved through the weeks.
Each week, we have homework to do. The homework consists of doing one of the 10 minute guided meditations we learned in the class, keeping a log about the experience, writing about a mindful activity, and writing down two things we are grateful for. I found it easier for me to do the meditations before I went to bed at night. It has helped me fall asleep and allowed me to reflect on the day. The mindful activity I logged about last week was about staying off of my phone while I am having conversations with people. I practiced this at work and at home while on Facetime with my friends. We don’t realize the connection we lose with people when we aren’t tuned into what they are saying. I noticed that when I talk with people, I’m either texting or scrolling through social media. Although I think I’m fully engaged in the conversation, I’m very much distracted. When I began practicing being mindful in the conversations, I noticed when others would be on their phones while we were talking and I felt that they weren’t fully listening. It’s wild how you notice things when you aren’t doing them anymore.
I am excited to see what else I will learn with this class. Yesterday we focused on meditated walking, a concept that I didn’t know existed. I am ready to learn more guided practices to keep me centered and in the present.
Here’s the recommended exercises you can do at home too:
❤ Queen T