“You are worthy,” she said, her hands pressing softly against my temples.
I could smell the gentle sweetness of her perfume as she lingered above me. “Breathe,” she said again, “Big inhale through the nose, quick exhale.” Her words were soothing as I took a deep breath, feeling my stomach expand. “Take up space. Yes, like that. That’s it. Now, again.”
I listened to the rhythm of her voice as I took another deep breath. I am worthy. I repeated in my head. I am worthy.
I could hear the echoes of breathing all around me. The exhales and inhales sounded like whirring machines in combination with the gongs reverberating through the room. I puffed out my air in a little burst then inhaled deeply from my shoulders to my lower belly, reminding myself that I was allowed to take up space in this room. That I was allowed to feel. That I was allowed to be the one on the receiving end sometimes—not always doing, not always pouring out, not always giving.
As a writer, it’s ironic how often I repeat the words ‘You are worthy’ in my writing, how often I create passages and pieces that are all about sharing inherent value with each of my readers. Every time I pick up my computer or put a pen to paper, every time I open my mouth in the presence of my boyfriend’s son, every time I stand in front of my classroom or with a student, my mind is spinning with a message. I have a desire to share words and encouragement that heals, a desire to help people take up space. A desire to share strength that someone else can find comfort and solace in.
But how often do I remind myself of this, too?
The music slowly ceased, leaving only echoes and her voice rooted us back to reality again. The lights grew brighter, and I slowly shifted out of the moment and back into my body again.
I was in a breathing and healing sound therapy session, learning to focus on circular breath. Similar to yoga, I had been laying on a mat in the middle of a quiet, incense-smelling room. But unlike yoga, I wasn’t putting myself into any poses or trying to engage muscles I never thought about.
In this session, I was simply learning to breathe.
And what a weird, yet essential practice that was.
As I rolled my wrists, bringing feeling back to my hands and moved my body into an upright sitting position, I thought of the irony of this moment.
How ironic is it that I, as someone consistently pouring her heart out about healing, and letting go, and finding yourself, and being strong, and loving yourself enough to take up space—struggled so much, simply learning to breathe.
The leader at the front brought all our eyes to her and asked us about our experience. She asked me, specifically, how I felt. “You were yawning a lot,” she said gently, “It’s your body’s way of telling you that you need more oxygen, that you need to own your worthiness. That you need to say, ‘I am worthy, and I am deserving of this breath.’”
I nodded, soaking in her words. I felt like I was going to cry for a moment, all the eyes in the room on me. It was strange to be pulled outside of myself and to recognize ways that I was, perhaps, not honoring myself in the way I should.
As I rolled up my yoga mat, I thought about the tasks of the day. I thought about my ‘to-do’ list and the things I knew I should accomplish. I thought about the myriad of obligations and mixed in there, the things I really wanted but admittedly probably wouldn’t get to.
And then, I thought, how wonderful would it be if I walked out of here and simply did the things I wanted first?
I stepped outside into the high seventies, southern California sun, and for once didn’t feel the pressure, the weight, or the nervous buzz to go and be productive.
I felt content to sit in the car with the windows down, the sun on my face and inhale, exhale, repeat.
I am a writer, a sister, a mother, a daughter, a lover, a powerful woman, a teacher, a learner, a friend. I thought to myself, the list of ‘to-dos’ fading like grains of sand being pulled into the ocean’s tide. I am worthy. And I will simply be, simply take up space here.
Featured Image Credit: Michelle