Let me tell you a secret: You’re more powerful than you could ever know. Your experience of the world depends on you. You can have and do and be anything you want.
But first you have to learn how to breathe. This, my friends, is the foundation of your power. It’s not just drawing air into the lungs and pushing out the carbon dioxide — it’s letting go.
Letting go of the subtle resistance that wraps its fingers around each moment and sucks the life out of them.
Letting go of needing to control every outcome, to manipulate each moment into what your ego wants. To be right, and for others to be wrong. To judge and despise and ignore. Letting go of the belief systems that constrict your life.
Allow your mind to be still for a moment and flow with the rhythm of creation.
Let yourself be seen. People will see your imperfections one way or another, but this way, you can be free from your own judgment as well as from theirs.
Let go for just a moment of the endless stream of thoughts in the mind, and your heart can open as you marvel at the endless, beautiful dance of the world. And your heart, having finally been given a moment of stillness, will raise a timid hand and, in a gentle, lyrical voice, it will speak. Maybe even sing.
Embracing this moment of stillness, you won’t lose your job. Your family won’t leave this dimension. You won’t disappear. You’ll still be here when the moment passes.
What will come, will come. While you’ll create many beautiful things, relationships and ideas, you’ll also fail sometimes to be the way you think you should be. You won’t always get what you want. Friends will come and go. People you love will die.
Sometimes it will hurt like hell and sometimes you’ll be overwhelmed by so much joy that you’ll weep. But you will continue to breathe and live a fuller life than you had ever imagined was possible.
I suppose I’m saying this as much for myself as for anyone else.
Sometimes, when I sit down to write, I feel the old familiar patterns of muscle tension aching in my neck and shoulders. I realize I’m hardly breathing, so caught up with the subtle anxiety that my words will keel over in my head before they make it out onto the paper. I’m afraid that I won’t have anything to say.
But even if I never write another coherent sentence in my life, it’ll be okay.
Nothingness used to feel really strange to me. I remember it even as a child, confined to my grandparent’s ancient farmhouse, bored as hell with watching Barney and PBS. Eventually I would have nothing to do but listen to the sound of the clock, and I’d find myself feeling very small and tired by it.
That emptiness, the space we glimpse when we take a breath and let the mind be still for a moment, is disconcerting. We do everything we can to avoid it. But when we finally fall into it, we find that the monsters we ran from were nothing more than reflections of us that were looking for love and recognition.
I was once terrified of being alone, being abandoned, being helpless. That subtle resistance — the fear — used to consume my body and my days to the point that I could never relax, never fully rest.
But I learned to breathe deeply. To open up my heart space to embrace the enormity of infinity that had waited for me behind the TV, behind the chatter of my mind, behind the illusions of my belief systems. I remembered what freedom feels like, and my body remembered harmony. I remembered that I am never alone.
So breathe. Deeply. It’s not really much of a secret. Just breathe. Then let go, and watch the magic unfold.
Matthew Stensland-Bos explores consciousness, love, wellness, and healing in Know This Love, a weekly SFBay opinion column, as well as on his blog, Conscious and Nutritious.