On Being, Breathing, and Working

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Being at the island exhibit at the zoo. Can you spot the monkey swinging in the background?

This might be my last post for a while, and that’s okay, I think.

Life goes through seasons: busy and slow, open and closed, happy and sad, content and discontent. This summer has been open, productive, happy, and content. I’ve gotten a lot of writing done, set a few plans in motion, and hung out at the pool and the zoo.

This week, in particular, I’ve been being a lot. I feel like I’ve been savoring, taking it all in before the school year starts on Monday. Monday starts a busy season.

I’ve been savoring

  • listening to an audio Richard Castle book on a whirlwind solo one-night road-trip to Ontario for a family reunion
  • relishing the presence of cousins, aunts, uncles, and family
  • watching my daughter bask in the presence of Nana, Papa, Dada, and Mama all at the same time
  • witnessing Siena and Papa explore the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh–Papa to see how everything worked, Siena to see how everything existed
  • creating syllabi for the upcoming semester
  • reading aloud while Siena struggles to fall asleep on her own in the crib

This last one…  wow. So much being and patience. We’re trying something new for bedtime–we’re sitting and reading The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep aloud with Siena in her crib instead of holding her as she drinks a bottle to fall asleep. We know it’s working because she sleeps longer and deeper, but it still takes a long time to get there. We’re teaching her an entirely new way of falling asleep, and it’s going to take a while before she adapts. So our near future involves a lot of breathing and vocal chords and patience and being. There is no rushing bedtime. No rushing falling asleep. No rushing presence.

No rushing presence. No rushing being.

As I prepare for the coming school year, I wonder how I can continue to be amid all the urgency of the semester. I just accepted a third class for the fall, which puts my workload at full-time or more. I will be maxed out. But I’ve done the math, and there is time for all of it. I will have the early shift, and I’ll be home every day by 2:30. I will be there when Siena wakes from her nap.

Siena is not the only one who needs the presence of being. My students do too. Students need instructors who are present with them.

So. How to practice being and not get caught up in the academic urgency? Here are some of the practices I try to do:

  • Breathe while teaching. When I’m listening to a student give an answer, I practice deep belly breathing both to help me concentrate and to stay in the present.
  • Start class with three minutes of silent meditation. I only do this in one of my classes–Writing the Spiritual–but it’s always a good reminder to myself of what I value.
  • When a student requests something unusual, I ask for 24 hours to respond. “Let me think about it. I’ll get back to you via email,” I say.

I’m sure there are more–but breathing is the big one. I’m so thankful to my yoga practice for giving me this incredible tool.

Being present with grains of sand.
Being present with grains of sand.

When I breathe, I remember that I am not God, and that God has never expected me to be God. For me, giving up the need to be right, to be perfect, and to have it all together is a big piece of breathing.

When I breathe, I remember that I live in the Presence of God, who is always already present and breathing next to me and in me.

When I breathe, I remember to be present with the people around me.

When I breathe, I remember to slow down. No rushing presence.

And so. I raise a cup of tea to another semester of breathing and being and working and mommying.

Cheers to you in your season too.


This post joins the #wholemama link-up at its new location with Erika Shirk at Overflow


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4 thoughts on “On Being, Breathing, and Working

  1. Beautiful. I love the connection you bring between being and breathing. So essential and part of each other. I wish the best on your semester! And i also want to take your “writing the spiritual” class 🙂

  2. I’m sorry this will be your last post for a while but I quite understand ! Those are really useful thoughts about breathing, and I will try to incorporate them in my own life which is full of things and needs a few pauses added. Wishing you well

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