Breathe Your Age


I take 37 breaths each night before I fall asleep. One breath for each year I have been on this planet. I don’t know how long it takes me, some nights longer some shorter, but I do know that it never feels the same.

The first breaths tend to be quick and tight and by the time I get into the 20’s I begin to find a rhythm only to abandon it in the 30’s where suddenly I am done. It never feels like enough. I always want more.

I started this practice out of a deep concern I have around how I am managing stress. Specifically, I want to be aware of the stress that I carry in my body. It is deeply important to me that I recognize the tension, anxiety, and anger I feel each day and that I discharge it, or at the very least, be aware of it and tend to it. I know that my ability to care for myself is connected to my physical well being.

Many years ago I read Gabor Mates “When the Body Says No” and it turned me onto a world inside my body that once was hidden away. I began to see that the little (and big) tensions and abrasions of life can stay with me and manifest into illness. I may repress, hide, or not fully release or move through my emotions each day and that has consequences. As I see my family age, and the challenges associated with auto immune conditions the urgency of the call to care for myself grows each day, just as I grow and age with each year

My birthday was recently and as I pondered my new age I realized that the cumulation of my years was beginning to catch up with me. My body doesn’t look the same after 3 children, my skin is beginning to wrinkle, my joints finding new aches. My body is telling me a story of a life lived to date and I want to listen to it.

And so my night ritual has begun. I sit on my bed and begin taking my 37 breaths noticing my thoughts, feeling the rhythms of each breath and at times ponder how each breath is like the unfolding years of my life. Sometimes I am even tempted to ponder what my future breaths will hold. But when I reach 37 i stop and then ask myself what tension or stress am I holding onto today? I notice it and name it. I give it a voice and say the words to myself. I then try to visualize it. I then ask myself what is the greatest joy I have experienced and do the same give it a voice, say the words and then visualize it. Typically, I conclude with my hand on my heart or a movement showing some reverence for these breaths and this day....

Want to try?

  1. Before you go to bed at night find a safe place to be. This might be your bed, the floor, your couch. Don’t lay down. Make this a transition to the space and position in which you sleep, something different.

  2. Take a breath for each year you have been alive. Count each breath in your head. I recommend trying to find a rhythm of- in through your nose out through your mouth. If this feels like too much you can start by taking a breath for your age in numbers. So for example if you are 68 years old take 6 breaths and then 8, if you are 54 take 5 breaths and then 4. This may be an easy way to transition into the activity.

  3. Once you have finished your breaths ask yourself what stress or tension you are holding onto today?

  4. If it could speak what would it say to you in just a few words? Say these words to yourself.

  5. See if an image comes to mind. Allow your mind to follow the image for a little while.

  6. Now ask yourself what is the greatest joy you have experienced today?

  7. If it could speak what would it say to you in just a few words? Say these words to yourself.

  8. See if an image comes to mind. Allow your mind to follow the image for a little while,

  9. Close your ritual by bring your hand to your heart, or following the impulse of a movement that feels right.

2,788 views
  • Vimeo - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Pinterest - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle