One thing we all forget to do when we are under extreme stress is to breathe. Yet breathing is the best way to bring ourselves to a point of calmness. When I am stressed there is nothing worse than being told to “take a deep breath” by some well meaning person. I explain to my clients the benefits of breathing and will often read them one of the following two poems that express the difficulty of that breath but also the benefits.
The first one is one I wrote. The second is one written by Daniell Koepke that I added extra lines to:
Because to breathe is to live.
Because your body cries out for it.
Because no matter how much you may want it otherwise, your body wants to live.
Breathe even though there is pain.
Breathe even though there is darkness.
Even though the pit is insurmountably deep.
Breathe even when your exhaustion for this life is overwhelming.
Because you have strengths you have forgotten about.
Strengths that will pull you through.
Like a banking engine they wait in a siding to push you over the mountain.
To push you into the light.
To reach the mountain top.
To rejoice with you in victory fought for and won.
Breathe and trust in you.
It’s okay. You’re going to be okay.
Breathe and remind yourself of all the times in the past you felt this scared.
I know you are in a dark place right now.
Where the light cannot penetrate.
I know you wonder how you will get out.
Remember all the times you have felt this anxious and this overwhelmed.
All of the times you have felt this level of pain.
And remind yourself how each time, you made it through.
Life has been hard.
Life has thrown so much at you,
yet despite how difficult things have been, you have survived.
You have the strength to survive this too.
It won’t be easy.
It will hurt.
Trust that this struggle is part of the process
and trust that as long as you don’t give up and keep pushing forward,
no matter how hopeless things seem,
you will make it.