Today I am grateful for breathing. Am I stretching it here, with this gratitude? I don’t think so, because I’m not talking about the daily, unconscious inhale and exhale of breath that we all do to stay alive.

I’m talking about deep breathing to reduce stress, control pain and clear your mind. I am unable to do yoga because I cannot be on my bionic knees. Also, while I can get “down” on the floor, but I don’t know any yoga studios that keep the Jaws-of-Life on hand to get me out of the pretzel positions and back up, off the floor. I do like the breathing of yoga, though. The few times I did it I was amazed at what a total workout it was. I was sweatin’ like an oldie in ten minutes and about dead after 45 minutes.

I like the breathing of water aerobics, too. It helps to know that you should inhale during the easy part of a move and exhale when your muscle is exerting the most. Reminding myself to do this keeps me focused. Everyone laughs when the instructor says, “Breathe! I don’t see any of you breathing!”, because if we weren’t breathing we’d be floating belly-up like old-busty-tree-trunks in a logjam. But only a few of us actually take the deep, deep breaths. I don’t know what it does, but I know it’s important.

I read an article that most people don’t breathe deeply enough. Since I did a little singing in my life, I know this is true. We tend to breathe in a very shallow way and not with our diaphragm, especially if we are under stress or in pain. The article suggested a pattern that’s easy to remember. Breathe in through your nose for the count of seven, hold your breath for the count of seven, and breathe out through your mouth for the count of seven. Do this seven times.

For some reason I’ve remembered this and now I do it all the time. It seems to settle me after a busy day or even in traffic, since it seems lately no one knows that the center line means stay on your side. They think if they have a pothole, I’ll know and veer onto the shoulder so they don’t have to slow down, pay attention, or God forbid, put their cell phone down. Grrrr! Breathe. If I’ve got shoulder, knee, back, or now-I’m-old-enough-to-get-social-security pain, doing this breathing seems to help. Sometimes if I wake up in the middle of the night I will do the seven-count breathing and fall right back to sleep.

I’m sure many of you out there are experts on what exactly the breathing does, besides keeping us alive. I just know I’m grateful for pure, deep, cathartic breathing. . .at least until the potholes are all fixed.

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