My yoga teacher starts yin classes by stating, “Make these the best breaths you take all day.”

I try to remember this advice when I stroll…I used to walk, but I felt like I missed too much, so I have regressed to strolling, and I am quite happy with my step backwards.

Picture and text by Gail Hoffman

I am fortunate to live within walking distance of a river, a river that ebbs and flows depending on the rain.  A river that invites me to breathe deeply and smell it.  Breathing and smelling the river brings me to my happy place.  Watching the spring slowly creep into view is the bonus for my breathing and smelling. 

Slowly, miniature grape hyacinth pop up.  Daffodils, crocuses, checked lily, and snowdrops each make an appearance.  Right now forsythia, dogwood, and tulips are showing their true colors.

I trace my love of breathing and smelling to having grown up on the ocean in Rhode Island.  My beach has a saltwater smell, and a slightly decaying fish aroma mixed with beach grass and beach rose wafting in summer only.  I prefer beaches off season because they are pristine and wild both at the same time.

My love of breathing dates back to my father slowly dying of COPD and my childhood wish to breathe for him.

Right now, my brother is in stage four COPD, and I have the same irrational wish. 

I think of those suffering with the labored breathing that appears to be a hallmark of this horrible COVID and I treasure my own deep breaths knowing each one is a gift. 

Once again, I am that small child, convinced that I can loan the suffering my breath. 

Art in the time of the Corona Virus – We invite the members of the Anawim Arts Community to embrace the vital capacity of art and spirituality to speak to our current situation. The works in this series will be gathered into a special edition of our on-line journal.

We welcome your comments. Please note: To reduce spam or inappropriate comments, comments for first time contributors are posted after approval by the editors.

8 thoughts on “Breathing

  1. I can smell the sea and taste the salt of my youth. Standing on small, unweathered dunes I trace the line where water touches sky. Your image and words remind me of a time where breath was not scarce and the sun’s energy lit ideas up like rockets of flowers blooming for peace, longing for comfort. Thank you for sharing your art. Peace!

  2. I love this.

    When our daughter was 12, she spent a week in the hospital in Colorado where we were on vacation. She had pneumonia, and combined with high altitude, breathing was a challenge. One night when our anxiety was at it’s peak, I “chanted” prayers to her for about an hour before she fell asleep. The refrain that I repeated after each few lines was, “And every breath is a gift.” That line has stayed with me ever since.

  3. Wow, this is a fabulous essay… and at the best of times. Congratulations!!! Your descriptions colorful, I can smell the air of your ‘salty’ beach. And yes, I am breathing gratefully.

  4. As the brother struggling with end stage COPD mentioned in this essay, I affirm the importance of recognizing the gift of breathing that my sister has so eloquently described. This is beautifully written and I hope that others will take note and recognize the important message it embraces.

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