Life Source- Breath

Hello, my name is Gina Marselle. It is an honor to share a prompt with you all today on Write Your Butterfly. My sincere thanks to Liza Wolff-Francis for the invite to share. I love to write, in particular, I love to write poetry. I have lots of roles in this life as wife, mom, educator, and life-long learner. I am the author of A Fire of Prayer: A Collection of Poetry and Photographypublished by Swimming With Elephants Publications (2015). I also have a rescue dog and a rescue horse that bring me much joy. My newest aspiration is to become a certified yoga instructor. 

During this uncertain time, I have had to use tools that I have learned over the years to help me best cope. I have found that yoga, prayer, and meditation have literally been life savers in a boat that always seems to be sinking (that boat being COVID 19 and other contemporary issue effecting all of us) and all though I use to be a certified life guard, I can’t save anyone else unless I save myself first. We all need to be better care takers of self. One way to start is to consider our actual life source to begin—our breath.

Breathing is natural. We don’t even think about it, especially if we are healthy. We have a healthy heart, healthy lungs, we just breathe. I take advantage of this breath. But when I focus on it, wow. It is amazing what it does and how it makes us feel. One of the meditations Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hahn recommends is Mindful Breathing. He says just allow breath to happen. Let’s try a simple exercise. Take a deep breath now through your nose. All the way down to your belly button. Allow it sit there for a second. Expel it out your mouth. Doesn’t that feel nice. Do it again. This is just the start. Breathing exercises has become a daily routine. I suffer from a couple chronic illnesses. I have a chronic digestive disorder and suffer from anxiety. I feel through my experience, I may be able to offer someone else a bit of help. I truly believe that learning to breathe easy may help with underlining health issues, calm anxiety, and reduce stress. It has for me! It is common knowledge that reducing stress and anxiety can help people with their health. Basically, I have relied on certain breathing exercises to help me in times of distress. On the outside, looking at me, people wouldn’t know I suffer from any chronic disorders. Sometimes, people close to me notice the strain in my eyes, my stillness because I am suffering from gastrointestinal illness pain. I have learned to breathe through the pain, and it eases after my breathing exercises or calms my anxiety so that I don’t have to rely on my doctors, family, friends or medications to help me in moments of distress—I rely on myself. 

Today’s prompt is a reminder that breath and breathing is more than air in and out of our lungs. It is a tool to use for well-being. Controlling breath may help. Along with breathing exercises, I always say a prayer or a mantra to help me. Sometimes, a poem or palms or quote. I like to find things that have meaning to me or write my own. I invite you to Write Your Butterfly with me today. Grab your journal, pen, a cup of hot tea and let’s write. 

To begin, make sure you are in a comfortable spot. Sitting comfortably. Mindfully inventory your surroundings. What do you smell, hear, feel, see, taste? Make sure this space brings you joy. Now, let’s take a mental intake in a way to calm our mind, body and soul. Pay attention to breath. The other day, my son’s school counselor visited his second-grade virtual class in a Google Meet. She was advising the students to pay attention to their breath, especially in moments of stress, worry or frustrations. She had them practice blowing on a pretend cup of hot chocolate to cool it. This is such a simple breathing exercise. I invite you to do that now. Breath in through your nose and your mouth pretending to blow on something to cool it off—slow and steady. I appreciate breathing in to the count of four. Then holding that breath for the count of four. Next, breathe out through your mouth to the count of eight. 4-4-8. Repeat five times. I hope you feel relaxed. 

I invite you to read this poem—slow and steady. Even read it out loud. Enjoy the sound of your voice and breath. Think of each word and how it complements the word before and the word after in its journey to completion. 

Only Breath

by Rumi.

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

An Excerpt from the translations of Coleman Barks © by owner. Provided at no charge for educational purposes. 

Writing prompt: Review the poem above and consider writing your own mantra, prayer, poem that you can say in moments of stress, frustrations, anxiety, or in moments of chronic pain. I recommend a short piece so you can memorize it and use it to help self. I invite you to use these words in your writing: BREATH, BODY, SOUL, EXIST, and BEING

Please share your piece with Write Your Butterfly

Other breathing exercises:

Mayo Clinic offers some techniques:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-2026719

Reunite with Your Breath by Yoga with Adriene:

Short Breathing Meditation Exercise for Anxiety with Thich Nhat Hanh:

Featured image of post: Bring Me the Sunset in a Cup | © Gina Marselle | 18 October 2020

Dear readers,

I am so honored to have had Gina Marselle be our guest blogger today. Continue to breathe and write.

Thank your for writing with us today. If you would like to write with us weekly, please follow the blog.

Best,

Liza Wolff-Francis

Published by lizawolfffrancis

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who is proud to have served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Steam Ticket, eMerge, Minute Magazine, Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, Poetic Routes, Poetry Pacific, Edge, and on various blogs. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (2015, Swimming with Elephant Publications), which is a collection of poems about the Mexico- U.S. border. She loves breakfast food, popcorn and dark chocolate.

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