Breathing Releases Me


I almost did it again, reach out to someone in authority to tell me if I’m doing it right, going in the right direction, following the right guidance, making the right decisions. I come right to the edge of my doubt and feel lost, adrift in my questions and frustrated with life. I doubt myself, doubt my guidance, doubt my intuition, doubt my choices, doubt my direction. It’s a crazy place to be juxtaposed between being guided and being lost. My mind questions and I start sliding towards less-than thinking.


I reached the point where I had an email half written to a mediumship teacher in the UK plucking out my story of doubt, what I need to help guide me. It didn’t feel right. I left it in drafts and went on about my day.


I remember a teacher long ago saying to me when I feel lost it means I am on the right path. I doubt.


When I imagine myself as a child, doubt played a huge role in my safety. If I react this way, that will happen. If I choose this, that will happen. If I make a mistake, I won’t be loved. If I’m too sad, someone will give me a reason to really cry. If I’m too happy, I’ll lose what makes me happy.


Recently, I made a mistake in a task that left something undone I thought was done. A day went by and then I realized my error. I felt terrible. What will they think of me? Now they will know I really don’t know what I’m doing. I beat myself up admonishing my neglect like my father used to do so well, berating me, insulting me, putting me in my place. My mistake was not the end of the world. My reaction felt like it was.


With a day to reflect, I’m realizing it’s easier for me to create my self-abuse than it is to wait for abuse to come from the outside. If I beat myself up, I don’t have to wait for it. I don’t have to wonder whether it will happen. I’ll get it over with. An old habit of survival.


Doubt takes up residence in my body and feels like aching muscles and a headache. The tension that rises from my self-imposed guilt hurts. Do I take it further and make my whole body miserable; my whole day miserable?


Today I take a breath and break through the walls of shame and affirm - I’m doing the best I can. I have good intentions. Mistakes happen to the best of us. Things have a way of working their way out. One step at a time.


I do not live among robots. I live among humans just like me who make mistakes, who do their best and have true intentions. Breathing releases my inner walls built to incarcerate my innocence. Breathing releases my shame and invites in compassion. Breathing releases me.



Always we hope by Lao Tzu

Always we hope

Someone else has the answer

Some other place will be better,

Some other time it will all turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer

No other place will be better,

And it has already turned out.

At the center of your being

You have the answer,

You know who you are

And you know what you want.

There is no need

To run outside

For better seeing.

Nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center of your being;

For the more you leave it, the less you learn.

Search your heart

And see

The way to do

Is to be.


Participants' Reflections

  • What a beautiful reading. I regularly go through that exercise in my mind with the self-doubt and insecurities. The line that really jumped out to me that I will carry in my heart is “when I feel lost it means I’m on the right path.” This is contrary sometimes to what I’ve been taught. I remember someone saying in the 12-step program that I got off the path, I’m in the brambles, and I have to get back on the path. But that is saying the path is known. If I want something bigger, an adventure, I need to get off the path that is known. Something new. Thank you so much for that.

  • Thank you. That was a beautiful reading. I remember a few days ago, when I was beating myself up for something—I can’t even remember it now. It’s strange how emotions are. When I’m in the middle of it, I think I’ll always be in this terrible emotion, this grief, this fear, feeling bad, this pain. I project it into the future that it will always be like that. And then it’s gone, and I’ve worked through it. All the pain I had yesterday and couldn’t sleep—I did my work around it. I came up with a new image to put in my mind and I stuck with it and I let go. It’s the ebb and flow, it comes and goes. I remind myself to not pitch a tent in the middle of a bad or even good emotion. Just accept it for what it is. Have faith it will pass and enjoy it while you have it and accept everything will come and go. This was a great reminder. Lao Tzu is a good reminder of how to be at peace in one’s life. Thank you.

  • I liked the phrase “I do not live among robots.” Other people aren’t robots and we need to remember we aren’t either. Sometimes we just need to do what feels like the right thing to do as opposed to what I think I should do. I took the day off yesterday. I had many things I should do, but I curled up with a book and I just rested, which is not like me. But it was quite good and hopefully, I won’t plunge back into being the robot of doing things today. I suspect there will be some of that. It has to help our well-being when we do that.

  • Thank you very much. I resonated with a lot of what you said. I appreciated so much your raw honesty and the strength of that. It felt very strong to hear your vulnerabilities out in the open and not inside and what you make of it. What resonated with me was your discussion of self-doubt and how it takes up residency in oneself, in your body, in your mind, in you spirit. During the meditation, I decided to breathe in things that I want to get rid of that are unhealthy, and breathe out shame, impatience, many other things that take me away from the moment and what is important to me. And to breathe in peace and calm and other places to be. That was valuable to me. Thank you.

  • I realize when I say breathing releases me, we all breathe. I know I breathe unconsciously and it’s just breathing. But when I put my mind behind it, it feels like I am releasing a wall of rigidity that is building itself creating this isolation and barrier to self-compassion. So breathing is a word. There is breathing and there is breathing.

  • It’s not breathing for the sake of breathing because I can do that. If I do it too much, I get light-headed. I don’t connect with the core inside me unless I put it behind something. Breathing with intention.

  • In terms of breathing, FYI, we have multiple ways we can control our breath. We have the autonomic nervous system that lets us breathe without thinking about it. But humans have this other pathway, the corticospinal tract, that goes directly from the upper parts of our brains down to our lungs. It’s why we can do this intentional breath. It’s why opera singers can sing the way they do by controlling their breath with their minds.

  • Your reading made me think about all the different emotions I’ve been feeling this year and how to release 2020. Back in March, I was feeling scared and dealing with my children not going to school and being home. At that point, it was only five weeks they were going to be home doing remote learning, and the emotions of not traveling anymore for work. The disappointments of all this, the family trips, the celebrations missed. I started taking all those emotions and putting them into a ball. During the meditation, I was brought to a visualization of all these emotions whipping around in this ball that I want to get rid of and say goodbye to 2020. Taking this ball and going outside with it and shooting it up to the stars and saying goodbye. It was such a wonderful release.

  • What a great visual. And what a timely visual to have it be now. Goodbye 2020, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • I’ve been thinking a lot recently. We’ve had some meditation sessions about the door (see August 10 and October 18). I never thought about the significance. It’s both closing something from the past and opening something to the future. That’s a very powerful image to me. Doorways.

  • I was having an image of sewing, thinking that every time the stitch went in, I could not see my own thought. I was actively involved in the thought and then when I pulled the needle up, there was space between the thought and the fabric and I could see it. Then I kept realizing that every time I went down for a stitch, I couldn’t create space between my thought and myself. Being attached to your thought. I was thinking is that right or wrong? Should I be able to? Then I got it, that’s the meditation. It’s not wrong. It just is.

  • It’s rhythmic. I can see breathing to that to. Another perspective I would not have thought of. Thank you. A great image.

  • I also loved your reading and the phrase about feeling lost and being on the right path. I’ve been confused lately. I’ve been feeling that I would love to be in love, love to be touching someone, love to be hugged. It’s like walking around in pain, that emotional pain. When I was younger, I would walk around in so much pain, I’d be doubled over, without the words for it. I’ve been watching movies, like Romeo and Juliet movies, that are tragic and cry through the whole thing. I feel like a failure when I do that. I don’t know if it’s true. I should be doing this, doing that. I feel like a failure when I give in to those feelings, but there’s something important about those feelings. I get really confused.

  • It’s important to be authentic and you are being authentic.

  • I was meeting with my spiritual director and we talked about liminal space, and Covid is a liminal space. She reminded me that in this time and in this space, we really won’t know until we get out of this space what this space was about. Were we incubating something, was something happening? There’s a lot of not knowing going on. Until we get out of it and reflect back on it, we’re not going to come to those insights and revelations that are there for us. I tend to be really impatient. I want to know now what all this is about. It’s not to be known now. There’s a lot of wanting to put 2020 behind us. But Covid is not going to be over starting in 2021. It’s going to be different because we have a vaccine on the horizon, but it’s still going to be Covid. I just had this feeling there’s a lot of dreaming and hoping which are fine and are wonderful feelings, but I wonder if we are doing the expectations vs expectancy thing.

  • The expectations of 2021! Get here already. Breathing, community support, one step in front of the other. We can do that. Look where we are in this meditation space, over 280 days.

  • The next week or two are going to be really trying because we have our normal rituals of New Year’s resolutions and all that. This is so different. I think this group is going to be even more important in the next period of time because it will help clarify the expectancy vs expectations. It’s going to be difficult.

  • It’s going to be wonderful because we are going to have an opportunity to practice and a place to bring it, and a history of doing it. I affirm that.

  • Thank you for joining us. Thank you for being part of this collective where we are our authentic selves. Bringing our ears and eyes and hearts and minds together to share so that we can keep on going one foot in front of the other, one thought in front of the other, knowing that things change. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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