The exhilaration of breathing

One of the symptoms of a culture of violence is to make assumptions about why other people behave the way that they do, to judge them as separate or opposed to one’s own values, to engage in a struggle to bring their behavior into alignment with our own, to control them. We even make assumptions and judgments about our own behavior, and attempt to control it.

One of the early symptoms of recovery is the experience of a profound grief for this separation and our apparent powerlessness to heal the wounds in others and ourselves. It is in this extreme pain of vulnerability that we seek new information, ideas, and tools because what we’ve been doing hasn’t produced the results we wanted. This curiosity, this willingness to listen, to simply observe without judgment, that transforms us into the change we wish to see in the world. We are no longer attempting to control what’s going on, we are PARTICIPATING in what’s going on. This kind of breathing with the planet, breathing with other people, is not easy because we’ve been trained by our culture to do the opposite: resist, hold on, hold our breath until we turn blue, a kind of anoxia that is very exhilarating in the short term but very damaging in the long run.

Sometimes my self-talk sounds like this: “so many fires, so much smoke, so little water…. gotta get down close to the ground.” This has been the mantra for my life recently. I can’t count the number of days this has been going on. The gasping for breathing space is just accelerating, it seems, because I am so busy going to meetings, rewriting documents, fielding requests, inputs and conversations around Peace Day Eugene, an event which coordinates with the International Day of Peace on September 21. I am so looking forward to the day after, September 22!  I hope it’s a good day for sailing.

People seem to see me as some sort of 3-D entity “doing stuff,” and I also fall into the trap of believing my actions to be the only reality. However, the more that I meditate, talk to my sponsor, or participate in my support group, the more do I simply witness what I put myself through, and I see that I am not just flesh and bone. There is something else beyond me, some fourth or fifth-dimensional stuff that energizes me, heals me, and yes, takes me to the limit of what I think I can do, and then stretches me further. As this movie is going on, I look around and see other companions around me doing the same thing, transcending whatever limitations they thought they had. It’s not just me, there’s a gluey morass of attractive energy in which we are all participating. Hell of a party, don’t you think?

As I let go of my “control issues,” I can breathe more easily. I’m not here to start a revolution, a movement, change the world, save the world, stop a war, or anything like that. If I can inspire ONE PERSON to begin their personal recovery from the culture of violence, to turn away from the dark side of anger and hate, to witness their own thoughts and feelings reflected back to them from everything around them, to take responsibility for self-management of their emotions — I will die a happy man.

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