Let’s All Take a Breath Together

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By Jen Myzel Swanson


artist unknown*

Let’s all take a breath together. Take a moment from the perpetual scroll of overwhelm and breathe…………..

I had become silenced by overwhelm, and I just tapped into the truth of it this early morning. Everything is moving quickly, with high intensity. The unravelling, that is. There is no denying it. We are all feeling it within our bodies, hearts and minds, and we are reading its evidence all over our news feed and witnessing it in our lives. From the perpetual oil—addicted industry disregarding the voices of the indigenous peoples and all of life on planet Earth, to the violent disintegration of Syria, attacks in Israel and Palestine, mass incarceration, the planet surpassing the 1.5 degree Celsius warming mark earlier this year. We are living in a time of chaos, heartbreak and unraveling. And if we don’t ADMIT that we are all feeling it, then we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our world. We are the embodied consciousness of the Earth. Please, as best we can, let us be her witness.

I woke up this early morning and could finally feel it. The overwhelm was crushing me to the breaking point, and I prayed in gratitude that I could feel again, even for these few hours, as the rains pour from the skies and my eyes, I remember that our world is in crisis, and that the Chinese character for crisis is made up of the characters for danger and opportunity, and what we need most now, as Thich Naht Hanh has said, is to hear the voice of the Earth crying within us.

And to pray. We can get so caught up in our human way of thinking- circular, insular, and many times the same mode of consciousness that got us into this mess. And what I pray to remember is how to pray. How to feed the spirits. How to know that we are not in this alone and that we need to ask for help during this time. Many, many wisdom traditions know that this time of year- Sahwein (Halloween), Dia de Los Muertos, is a sacred time when the veils between the seen and unseen worlds are thinner. Let us use this moment to make an altar. To sit by its side and speak to the other side. To humble ourselves and say ‘hey, we really need some help, can you help us?’, in return giving them our acknowledgement of their existence, the feeding of their soul through song, beauty, and scent.

Humanity seems to be going through a Rite of Passage. It’s hard to believe that we are only a teenage species, but it seems that is exactly how we’ve been acting (or some of us at least). Disconnecting from our Mother Earth and thinking we can make it all on our own, meanwhile exhibiting extremely self-destructive behavior. When people are faced with rites of passage, as so many indigenous cultures held as sacred practice for thousands of years, they are faced with their own death. They must shed layers of themselves to become humble and ready to be of true service in the world. And they must learn how to pray. Even if you don’t believe in prayer, to simply get quiet inside and give great thanks for all of the blessings of this life and to understand that this is all a gift. That is a good place to begin.

A line comes to me from the musical Hamilton. ”History has its eyes on you.” Like it or not, what we do in this decade regarding climate change and ending our greenhouse gas emissions directly correlates to the health and viability of the next generation and their prospects for continuing the fight to keep life living on this precious gem of a living planet. Let us just feel the heartbreak for a moment. Please. Do not be afraid to feel the heartbreak. I’ve felt the pain of numbness for so long, and the pain of heartbreak becomes pure medicine, because it is the truth. We should be heartbroken about the unraveling of our world. Contrary to popular belief, feeling our feelings and dropping into their core can actually help ignite us and give us some breathing room to be with our world during this time of great sorrow and outrage.

So what I want to say is, if you are also feeling extremely overwhelmed, which I have been for some time now, please go sit with an altar. Light a candle. Get quiet. Turn the news off for a moment. We have no right to bombarded ourselves with the tragedy and gossip to the point where we can no longer feel the heartbreak. Numbness is not what we need right now…..

So go get quiet. Close your eyes. Breathe into the parts of the body that are holding the pain. Allow yourself to feel them and witness them. Remember that you are directly connected to a larger story of the living body of the Earth. This is the truth of who you are. If you are in pain, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, you are feeling a collective pain body that not one person is separate from. Please, for all of us, and I am speaking to myself too, allow the pain space. Give it space. Give it love. Give it breath. Feed the pain as you would feed a guest in your home, like Rumi’s poem the Guest House.

~ ~ ~ ~

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

—Jalal ad-Din Rumi

~ ~ ~ ~

So thank you for joining me in this sharing of my truth in the moment, and all I can hope is that we can share some threads of connection over the heartbreak. Please, can we remind each other that we are not alone in this time? Over and over again, please. Let us not be alone, in the joys and the deep sorrows and outrage.

Thank you. Love you. Peace Be.

jen-myzelJen Myzel is a Work that Reconnects Facilitator, Singer-Songwriter, Elementary School Music teacher, and Youth Mentor living in Richmond, CA.  She weaves themes of environmental and social justice into her music and teaching, and she has a BA in Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.  Jen was born and raised in Ardsley, NY. When not teaching or playing music, Jen can be found spending time on the local hiking trails or feeding her chickens. To listen to her music and find out about upcoming offerings, visit her website at: www.jenmyzel.net.

*The image of the weeping eye was used as cover art for the book, A Mind of Her Own by Anne Campbell, published by Oxford University Press.  No information about the artist appears in the book.

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