Published in  
Reflections
 on  
February 15, 2021

Breath

“Breathe” has become a favorite mantra of mine recently. It isn’t necessarily that I am tapping into my inner yogi or that I am endeavoring to engage my breath on a more guttural level. No, my newfound mantra was born of necessity.

“Breathe” has become a favorite mantra of mine recently. It isn’t necessarily that I am tapping into my inner yogi or that I am endeavoring to engage my breath on a more guttural level. No, my newfound mantra was born of necessity. “Breathe” means my lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen and I need to verbally encourage myself to do what should come natural. Even as I write this I feel the tightening in my chest. “Breathe.”

All of the physical cues I’ve been ignoring lately are reminding me that I am doing it again - I have been refusing to acknowledge the grief and stress that seems to hover behind my back like intrusive, yet obligatory, shadows on a sunny day. Their unceasing knocking seeks to remind me that I have reasons to grieve. As I am sure you do too.

I should have known something was up the week before last when I randomly (just for the record - I don’t actually believe anything is ever truly random) chose to take a look at a project an artist friend shared with me. She had participated in a project called ‘The Artists’ Grief Deck’ and thought I’d be a good fit for it so she emailed me the link. This was months ago and I hadn’t stopped to actually look at the project. But finally I did - and I was blown away.

Grief is not a subject we often touch on in the United States (it does seem that this may be changing.) We’d much rather talk about all matters pertaining to productivity than to venture into the sticky, painful subjects of grief and trauma. I’ve spent the past four or five years finally acknowledging that grief and trauma were forces to be reckoned with. Apparently the pain in my chest and shortness of breath are reminders that I still have work to do. That’s the thing about trauma work - we’re never really “through.” We may get better at this overtime, but healing and progress are cyclical, not linear.

If you are at all like me, you value tangible hands on activities that can help you process. Sure, the written word is important and visuals are expressive, but there’s nothing quite like having a way to actually process what you’re trying to move through and out of. So, below you will find a short list of resources that I’ve found helpful in moving through painful grief and trauma. I’ve started with the readings and viewings, but you’ll also find a few tools and exercises. I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been for me. Sending peace, Friends.

Resources

Books

We Heal from Memory by Cassie Steele (try your local library for access)
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Activities

The Artists' Grief Deck
A simple breathing exercise

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