In an average lifetime, we will take a breath about 588,000,000 times (at rest we breath about 16 times a minute). Obviously breathing is fundamental to life in that it provides oxygen to the body and takes carbon dioxide away. Breathing is also a rhythm of the body we all dance to and which forms a window into the fundamental anatomy and physiology of the body.
Parkinson’s disease is disrupting the conscious control I have over my body (it is as if Parkinson’s has pushed my body ahead of my mind) but it has mercifully left unconscious functions like my breathing intact. Therefore, Parkinson’s has left a gap in which I can assert the feeling of a connection to my body.
I was at yoga today feeling annoyed with my Parkinson’s as I was struggling to get into the poses. I began to ask myself, how can I feel a closer connection to my body no matter how my symptoms fluctuate? I thought of an image of reaching into my body and touching the heart of me; like plunging my hand through a layer of oil to get to the clear water underneath. Then I noticed my breathing; I breathe in, my chest expands, I breathe out, my chest deflates. I focused on this rhythm for a minute or two and then it hit me:
I breathe in, my chest lifts up as if I am reaching out to myself.
I breathe out, my chest contracts as if I am pulling myself closer.
I reach out for myself, I pull myself closer. I reach out for myself, I pull myself closer.
This is a profound realisation. No matter how my symptoms fluctuate or deteriorate I will always be able to reach out to myself and feel a connection through my breathing. And I will be given the opportunity to do this hundreds of millions of times. I can be myself…