On Breath, Gravity, and Support
...physical principles that soothe my soul.
How many times have I thought to myself, "Next time, I’ll be more conscious"?
Well, another next time is here. This time, it’s my doggie, Amber-girl, my 42-pound gift of sweetness. She’s gonna leave me soon, and I cannot bear the thought.
So, I breathe. I sense gravity. I feel the support around me.
For many years now, when life’s challenges have come calling, contemplating these three things has been my solace. It’s one way I take my movement practice into the world with me each day. That's what I've chosen to share with you today.
She sleeps a lot, now. Gone are the days of running after the ball over and over, jumping to catch it mid-air. Thank goodness that movie is etched in my mind; somehow, it helps me now. Somehow, knowing, before she is gone, that I can close my eyes and see her in her glory, heart pumping, paws pounding the ground, happy...is comforting. I know that’s how I will remember her - defying gravity. For now, I am just savoring the moments.
As I write, my mind begins to race down a dark path...this was supposed to be uplifting...and here I am, on my first longevity blog, ruminating about death...so many thoughts jumbling around...I am flooded with memories...I feel the heavy weight of thoughts of a future without her...and my heart sinks. I sense the void.
Suddenly, I feel my lungs spontaneously fill and I am returned to life; I must have been holding my breath. I look at the clock and a few minutes have passed. Where did I just go, I wonder? Deep into thought and feeling - to the space-less place of no sound, no light, no time.
And, with that breath, I sense my seat in the chair, I see the sunlight dancing across the windows of my studio, I hear the clock tick and the cars whiz by. I exhale, stretch my arms above me, my head hanging back as I look up to the ceiling...and in comes another breath.
I notice I’m tired now. Sleepless nights are the norm lately, as she paces at all hours, unable to get comfortable. I think about where she is right now, a few blocks away, lying in the grass in the yard of a friend, as I work to put these thoughts to paper. I’d really rather be with her. It’s sunny and warm, a welcomed change from the wet and wind of late. So, off I go to her. I am greeted with tail wagging and ears perked, as I ask, “Wanna go to the park?”
Today, she’s having a good day! Her favorite thing is to roll in the grass. She has this way of leading with her nose as her front legs support her descent, spiraling towards her target - a soft, grassy spot to wiggle and rub her ribs and backside, back and forth, neck arched, paws in the air, side to side, as best she can these days...until she comes to rest and heaves a sigh. Ahhh.
For a moment, I forget her advancing age of 14. I flash on the times when she would roll so robustly that her ears would turn inside out and stay that way, even as she romped towards me afterwards. Thank you, Life, for another moment of levity, one to carry with me always. I feel the tears welling as I smile, but I’m able to remain composed. This...is the sort of conscious moment for which I practice daily.
Back at my computer, I search for the photo. Oh, that's right! Wally was there that time I captured her with those ears. Now, talk about levity, my Wally, as a puppy, had a hip operation, and ever since, he always stood with both hind legs in the air as he peed. Quite a feat, which never failed to get a giggle from strangers. What a character! I know she misses him, too. He was only nine, when he left us last April. My heart is so incredibly broken. I am certain I have not yet felt the depth of that loss, and yet, I take heart that for a time, my amazing Wally-boy graced our lives.
I owe this awareness - that grace is always present - to my movement practice. It informs me, it reminds me, to experience the awesome nature of my existence and the world around me, just as it is. It wasn’t always this way for me. I had to learn. I had to practice; I chose to practice. Body, mind, and soul. I have earned this consciousness, this, now familiar, lightness of being. Yes, it is still deep and unabashedly heart wrenching. It is real, and it is mine.
I’m not sure how much time I have left with my Amber. Friends tell me, “You’ll know when.” I place my focus on the calm and steady love there is between us, different from my bond with Wally. I know that both go on, unceasing.
My practice has conditioned my attention to move consciously through this heartache toward gratitude - for the gifts of support, friendship, and happy times. As I experience impending loss, my sense of gravity keeps me grounded, and I know that grace will bring me peace once again.
I also know that there will be a next time. That's life, after all. And, until then, I'll just keep breathing….