Our one true constant – the breath

by Jill Sockman

I had a new experience this week as I tried my hand as human voodoo doll. I’m kidding (I think) but that’s a little bit what I felt like after my first breathesession of a technique (torture) called dry needling.

For the uninitiated, after the session, I described it this way: if you’ve ever had an acupuncturist hit an especially zing-y spot, multiply that sensation by 27 and then imagine her jabbing the spot over and over then carefully selecting a dozen more locations to do the same thing. Mid-treatment, I turned to my physical therapist and asked, rhetorically, how anyone could possibly tolerate this who didn’t know how to breathe.

The breath. Yes, the breath will get me through. Again.

I’ve used pranayam on the mat for as long as I can remember: as a metronome in vinyasa, as my guide into meditation, as my teacher shining the way into deep and challenging places in movement and stillness. I’ve cranked up the ujjayi on the side of a rock face, hundreds of feet from the ground, clinging sweaty-palmed to tenuous holds, hoping the gear will hold and my belay partner is alive, awake and aware above me. It’s come in handy in traffic, in frustrating conversations, during sleepless nights and yesterday, being a pincushion, abiding physical discomfort.

It’s always there. A place to focus. It’s a reminder that all is change, and is where I return again, again, again as the one true constant.

In a jam?  In pain?  Frustrated?  Content?  Grateful?  Breathe.  It’s Spring. Change is all around.