The past few months brought with them a sharp decline in my father’s health and, recently, his passing. I have had both my parents around for a good long time and for this, I am grateful.
I spent hours sitting at the edge of my father’s hospital bed, holding his hand, watching him sleep, allowing my thoughts to drift and various emotions to arise. Taking in the quiet, witnessing the rising and falling of his barrel-like rib cage, placing my hand gently over his heart.
Inhale, exhale. Rising, falling. Let go, let go….
Only now does it occur to me that this was a joint sacred meditation of sorts.
As I sat drinking in the connection, I was swiftly transported back to the birth of my son nine years ago when, after the conclusion of a tumultuous pregnancy, in the quiet of the hospital night, I sat for hours gazing at the beautiful, wizened face of my healthy newborn, in awe of each rise and fall of his small, but mighty chest.
Inhale, exhale. Rising, falling. Welcome, welcome. (Thank you, thank you.)
The ever-evolving seasons of life.
Throughout the seasons, the breath remains a constant, anchoring us, calming us, helping us ride the waves of intense grief, love, awe, and joy. Connecting to the breath allows us to feel deeply without losing ourselves completely, to integrate our experiences, and head out into the world a bit more vulnerable and raw, yet more compassionate and profoundly changed.
There are seasons in life when we push, grow, live purposefully full-out and immersed. Other seasons call for a radical slowing down, perhaps even screeching to a swift halt temporarily to simply be, feel, and take in what life has brought our way. This is not so easy, of course, but wholly worthwhile and empowering in the compassionate, gritty resilience it creates.
Leaning heavily into the mindfulness tools I have practiced over the years allows me to literally sit with all of the emotionally loaded thoughts and memories as I grieve my dad. I let the tears flow when the lump in my throat arrives. I do my best to sleep when the exhaustion hits. I laugh heartily with wet eyes when recalling a sweet memory. I notice my energy return as the seasons turn and I once again shift my gaze outward into the life that calls to me to engage, love, teach, and learn.
This is the power of mindful empowerment in action and why I am on a mission to share it with the world.
Inhale, exhale. Rising, falling. Grateful, humbled, strong.