Move to the rhythm of your own breath

This week, we’re taking inspiration from Where the Crawdads Sing and looking at ways in which you can reconnect or deepen your connection with nature – your own and the world at large…

In Where the Crawdads Sing, the main character, Kya, endures what seems impossible for any child then adult. In the film version… I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers.

Practically raised by nature, the Marsh, Kya is almost broken by her time in jail. Separated from the natural world. She describes being alone.

And yet, from all we’ve seen, she’s spent most of her entire LIFE alone.

But because she felt so connected to the landscape, she survived.

She recognised herself as part of nature and she let herself feel her own nature

There’s often a fight between our need, as humans, for attachment (connection with others) and our need for authenticity (to be ourselves, to connect with our Self*) but, abandoned so young by all the humans, Kya grew up with a very strong sense of authenticity while also, held enough by nature, to have an open heart.

In psychosynthesis terms, while most humans have a primary caregiver (mother, father, another human) who sees us enough to reflect our whole Self back to us (depending on their own wounding and struggles), Kya had the Marsh as her ‘external unifying centre’.

She was able to be completely herself

In a heartbreaking moment of angst, she screams into the ocean.

She should have been held, nurtured, nourished and LOVED. Cared for and fed.

And if she had been, she’d also have been controlled. Conditioned to be a ‘good girl’. Polite. Nice.

Her anger would have come out in other ways.

The ocean, like an ideal mother, father or other primary care giver, is containing enough for Kya’s screaming and while her human parents were far from good enough, nature normalised her feelings.

She found belonging.

She remained fiercely wild AND gentle. Sensitive and loving.

What is YOUR nature?

If you explored the complexity of your WHOLE self, which feelings, parts and aspects of yourself were welcomed by the adults around you?

Which are welcomed and encouraged in the life you’ve built for yourself?

What parts of yourself did you abandon, consciously or (more likely) unconsciously in order to please others? In order to survive?

Let yourself imagine yourself as a type of creature (animal, bird, fish, bug – anything at all) or weather or climate or landscape.

If more than one springs to mind, repeat the process as often as you like.

How might you welcome more of your natural power and majesty into your daily life?

You do get that just like a rainbow (or a Rainbow MagnifiCat), bolt of lightning, mountain, ocean, flower, tree, tiger, octopus etc etc etc, YOU, TOO ARE PART OF NATURE?

There is divinity with you!

Give yourself some time to connect with it and honour it.

Mind body practices like yoga can help

The other day, I did some Sun Salutations for the first time in ages. My morning yoga practice has been incredibly gentle since the whole head injury thing but am almost fine so building up again.

Because of the break, I found it more challenging to connect each movement with my breath. And when I reminded myself – with the soothing self compassion I’ve learned over the decades but still struggle to practice 100% – to slow down and move with my breath, I felt the magic of being on the mat again.

(I feel this every morning but because most of what I’ve been doing has been much slower and easier, these TWO – baby steps – Sun Salutations left their mark on my wellbeing.)

The importance of connecting each movement with YOUR OWN BREATH

Before I trained as a yoga therapist, I’d heard countless instructors talk about connecting each movement with the breath but my inner critic was so loud, I always thought I was breathing ‘wrong’ because I simply couldn’t coordinate.

So I focused my energy on LOOKING as if I was relaxed and connected and all the things I hoped the practice would bring me in addition to pain relief.

Just as I’d spent my life looking as if I was fine when I felt anything but, or pretending to be relaxed in guided meditations while crawling out of my own skin.

Thankfully, the trauma informed nature of the yoga training meant I finally learned that OF COURSE we all breathe at different rates.

Any class, group and individual I’ve ever taught, I’ve emphasised this in hopes that others won’t assume they’re doing it wrong and the instructor (who is talking rather than connecting 100% with their OWN breath) somehow knows their body better than they know it themselves.

I used to be so conscious of my need to pretend to be doing yoga rather than ACTUALLY uniting my body and mind by focusing on myself. And my own breath.

This may resonate or it may not – you might have similar experiences in things that aren’t yoga

Where do you go along to look as if you’ve got something rather than being true to yourself?

When you take the time to notice the rhythm of your own breath and actually move in unison with your own breath, EVERYTHING changes.

It takes time and practice.

But it’s incredible.

Even if you feel like you’re making barely any progress in terms of actual asana practice (the poses), if you feel like you aren’t very flexible, balanced or strong, the simple (but not easy) practice – our attention constantly wanders so the practice is noticing and bringing it BACK to the movement and the breath each time – of moving in time with your OWN breath rate is like connecting with your inner ocean or star or mighty oak tree.

What helps you connect with your own nature and your own breath?

Feel free to email to let me know.

And please feel free to share this post so others who may find it helpful can read it.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

*that highest, wisest, truest, wildest, most miraculous part of yourself

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