Just breathe…

My mom once said: “We never really have to learn to breathe.  At some point, life teaches us to breathe…”

Why am I touching on the topic of breathing this week?  Well, for one I was really shocked that the Gauteng High Court turned down the application by Fita to reverse the ban on the sale of tobacco products…not that I`m a smoker or anything, but does Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma really believe herself when she says that an estimated 800,000 to one million people have given up smoking due to Covid-19 and the lockdown?!

Furthermore, scores of studies have found fewer smokers among hospital cases than in the general population, and yet, our Minister insists that she is doing smokers a health favour by keeping tobacco sales off limits…Does she really think we have to believe that she is trying to preserve the nation`s lungs?! Gmpf!

But, enough of that…I also watched the Netflix movie “The healer” this weekend, and was touched by this poem, recited by the 15-year old Abigail, a girl with incurable cancer:

“We all at some point stop breathing.

What if we lived one breath at a time?

We speak as though breathing is easy because it`s innate.

Half the time we don`t even notice our breath.

When did breathing become the uncool kid that all the other body parts ignored?

Think about the phrase “catch your breath”.

You have to catch it, because you lost control of it.

Alec and Cecilia, find control over your breath.

And please live for me like tomorrow is your last day…”

…Beautiful, isn`t it?  I did a bit of digging and discovered that the role of Abigail in the movie was in fact inspired by the real-life story of Abigail Bryant, a girl from Halifax who lost the battle against cancer in 2014.   She wrote these amazing lines in her obituary:  “I don’t want to make a difference – I want to be the difference…for it is not how tall you have become, but how much you have absorbed on the upward journey.” 

In the TV-series “13 reasons why”, when Alex is hunched over, trying to gulp what appears to be chunks of air, Charlie says: “Just breathe.  Keep doing it.  It`s easy.  In.  And out…”

We have all experienced moments when there was nothing more soothing than taking a deep breath.  When life knocks us off our feet, we remind ourselves of the simple, profound phrase.  To breathe.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Just breathe.

Scientists call breathing a rhythmic activity, the most advanced technology App on the planet.  A person at rest makes approximately 16 to 17 respiratory incursions a minute.  Breathing becomes shallow when we are frightened or anxious.  It deepens with relaxation, pleasure and sleep.

…I don`t think breathing gets the credit it deserves for being there when things go right or horribly wrong.  It is with bated breath that we await the outcome of so many things – a birth, a death, a report card or a test result…

I wonder if Beethoven held his breath the first time his fingers touched the keys the same way a soldier holds his breath the first time his fingers clicks the trigger.   When I close my eyes, I can still feel and hear the sound of my mom`s last breath…On that day I realized I never knew what breath was until she died.

In his book “Beautify your breath, beautify your life”, Amid Ray says: “When life is foggy, the path is unclear and your mind is dull, remember your breath.  It has the power to give you peace.”  We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this super-power we all have. The power to tap into our breathing at any time whenever we need to feel calmer and more at ease.  Instantly.

As businessman Robert Dittmer describes it in his book “151 quick ideas to improve your people skills”: “Breathing helps you get your fight-or-flight-response back in check, and returns control to the thinking part of your brain…”

What am I trying to say?  In this unsure times of Covid-19 with none our government`s rules making any sense anymore, at all, maybe we should all just breathe…

Life coach Eric Thomas once said: “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”  We are in week 5 of our online Zoom Challenge, with 53 participants going strong.  I am so thankful and proud for every woman who has decided to take the leap with me.  

These girls` incredible fighting spirit the past few weeks have kept me going and I have come to the realization once again – sometimes just breathing may be enough, BUT because you`re breathing, doesn`t necessarily mean that you are ALIVE.  Sometimes it`s the same moments that take your breath away that breathe purpose back into your life.

These past few months have taught me that every day is a series of ins and outs.  That things don`t stay in a straight line, full speed ahead.  They go up and down.  In and out.  No matter how much we plan or wish or pray, we`ll never truly know how things will unfold in the days ahead.  What matters most is that we keep breathing.

Not in a matter-of-factly-feeling-sorry-for-ourselves kind of way, but breathing – seizing it, feeling it, loving it, appreciating it.  Fighting for it.  Because that deep sighing breath you just took to show that your problems are bigger than you, is the final breathe someone had taken right now in his life.

Think about that for a second, and then take a deep breath and remember Richie Norton`s words: “The quality of your life is measured by the number of deep breaths you take.”

May you have a breath-taking week.

May you count every breath as a blessing and celebrate every breath as an event.

May you notice your breath, catch your breath, find control over your breath and allow life to constantly teach you how to breathe.

Yours in fitness


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2 comments to “Just breathe…”

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  1. Colette Barnard says:

    Very interesting! Deep breathing has a lot of power

    • Mirna says:

      Dankie Colette!