A few months ago I told a teacher, who was talking to me and a friend about breath and yoga, that breath-work – pranayama – made me panicky. I get anxious in the state of trying to control my own intake – the feeling would well, suddenly, that I would not be able to breathe, that there is not enough air. This is a little ironic, I suppose, as the purpose is to learn how much expansiveness there is – in our breath, in our breathing, in our bodies…
Over the last week I have been focusing on that fear – the exercise is one of expanding breath – to longer and longer inhales and exhales. To pause at the top and bottom of each breath.
It is not when my lungs are filled with air that I am afraid – but when they are empty. At moments, I have emptied all of the air and am still… I feel as if the world is closing in. I feel as if I am suffocating. And I am working on the few moments when I begin to inhale again not to be greedy with the air – to maintain composure and discipline even with the fear not yet subsided – even with belief not yet restored.
Sweet teacher said today, can you make a practice of surrender? Can you make a practice of giving up.
Giving up, she said.
Is it the giving up with the understanding that I will breathe again? That being without is the basis of being with?