Operations and chemo had left him weak and had not had the results intended. He was pissed.
As I entered the room to meet him, he sized me up. He took in my messy blond hair half tied in a knot, my colorful dress and my flip flops. Not very business like, but very me. He was polite enough not to roll his eyes yet his expression held great irritation at the thought of sitting through a “breath work” session. I could hear the inner dialogue. “What the hell is breath work anyway? What was the point of all this?” I didn't blame him one bit. I could not deny it, this sucked.
Call it breath work or rebirth breath work. I have heard all the jokes. “Oh! Will I be RE born? Haha. Will I?” “You want me to breathe for an hour? Oh I don't think I want to do that.”
It’s part of how we live these days, that makes simply breathing, or openly talking about ourselves feel incredibly awkward. Why would you want to review the ups and downs of your life? Yet that is exactly what I was about to ask this man to do.
To open his heart to a stranger.
I pulled up a chair and he sat on the bed, feet on the floor facing me. Legs crossed, arms crossed and eyes stern in an energy lock down. Slow, concentrated exhales streamed from his nostrils in an attempt to hold his “fed up” in check.
I began simply by telling him about me and my life. The ups and downs that led me to what I do and how I think. I talked clearly with facts only. This was not a man who wanted to hear about intuitive thinking. I understood. Then I asked about his illness, followed by his job. He was a retired math professor, the keeper of rules, the one you looked to for vindication of your worth.
I listened to him talk, I heard the monotone stories and the ones that made him offer bored and tired sighs, others that pulled inhales deeper into his being.
I attempted to mention his breath, and how it was effected by his stories. He shrugged, considering it a possibility.
We went to his childhood, to times of strictness and the learning of life’s book of ‘correctness’ according to man. Life in a New England town. There was an almost invisible change to his eyelids as he mentioned his father, who was once a musician. Admiration and an echo of a child crept into the base of his throat and the tone of his voice owned curiosity and freedom.
What an honor it is to listen to life stories, to listen to a heart opening, cracking, wrenching, blooming, inspiring… To offer truth and have it returned, even when it doesn't feel pleasant. It holds a sense of energy clearing and true validity beyond good or bad. It’s soul centering.
He awkwardly lied down, shy in his resting pose. Yet brave and polite enough to give it a chance. We added some pillows to prop him up, to try to comfort the constant growing pain in his belly.
“What will we do now?”
We breathe, inhale followed by an exhale. Simple. Just loose that pause between the two. Create a circle.
Resistance slowed us, he said. “ This doesn't feel good. I feel odd”
It can feel that way at first. Focusing on the self, breathing life fully can make you dizzy and scared.
I thought of an image to help him relax. I asked him to picture his father’s hands, his fingers as he played trumpet. His inhale caught and his cheeks brightened with a rush of feeling. The rhythm of breath became a circle, joining the universe in its spinning. A current all its own as it connected all life.
I felt myself drifting into the distance of his awareness, as he felt his father. As he felt everything.
After a time he said
What is it? How do you feel?
“I feel, oh. I feel tingly and well, happy. There is no pain at all. I feel no pain just… I am huge. My um energy? It’s huge! Oh wow” More tears.
“Can I stay here a while?”
Oh Yes. Lets. I put my hand to rest on his shoulder and we hung out in peace.