Take a breath, or count to 4.7.

Take a Breath

“Take a Breath.”

That’s what the card says, and how appropriate.  I have these little cards, about 1” x 3” in size, brightly colored, with little sayings/reminders printed on one side.  I fail to recall how I acquired these cards, but it was most likely a present from a friend after completion of my yoga teacher training back in 2006.  I started practicing in 2001.  Although I no longer instruct, and my practice has changed and matured since my training, I still use these reminder cards.  I keep them in a bowl on my altar, choosing one at random every day to be used as food for thought.  It never ceases to amaze me how I always pick just the right one for my perceived troubles at the moment.  (As an aside, my practice of yoga is not just the western idea of exercise, but an all-encompassing path which also includes breathing, meditation, mindfulness, reading/study, etc.)

At any rate…”Take a Breath.”  Or, as a good friend has recently recommended, count to 4.7.  “4.7?”  “Yes, 4.7.”  Uhhhhh, ok.  It sounded rather strange at first, but I chose to consider it for a while.  I employ a method of STOP whenever I feel myself becoming overwhelmed or upset.  Stop what I am doing.  Take 3 breaths.  Observe my feelings.  Then proceed.  This helps me to respond to whatever stimulus has tweaked me, instead of reacting and then possibly regretting that reaction.  (No, I’m not so awesome that I remember to do this every time, but when I do remember it is infinitely helpful.)  Counting to 4.7 isn’t so different.  He clarified the method, “One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand, 4.7.”  So, when thinking about it, I realized that 4.7 isn’t so different than STOP.  The addition of 4.7 at the end is so dramatically different than counting slowly, using whole numbers, that it gives one pause.  And that is exactly what STOP does.  It helps one to suspend time, to gain perspective, to break the cycle of madness.

And so you might wonder, “Well, why is 4.7 so appropriate for Cathe today?”  And so I will tell you.  The short story is that I am currently nursing a herniated lumbar disc.  This has put me out of my normal routine since December 3.  Since my normal routine pretty much includes exercising for work (ski patrol) and exercising either before or after work and on my days off (backcountry skiing,) this has been a HUGE departure from my regular life.  Exercise?  Not a chance.  As a consequence I have gained 10 pounds and am starting to lose my sanity, despite employing every meditation technique in my arsenal.  There are also other items in my life that are particularly challenging right now, no different than most people.  Most of the time I’m well-adjusted, because there are so many amazing and awesome people and things in my life for which to be thankful.  But I’m only human, and I sometimes lose sight of what is important.  So, when that happens…well…4.7.  Try it sometime.  I triple dog dare you.

Well…isn’t that interesting.

I think it all started when I was about 10.  I was introduced to backpacking through my summer camp in Maine, where I would spend a week at a time on the Appalachian Trail.  On one such trip we hiked the Mahoosucs, the crowning glory of which is the Mahoosuc Notch, a 1 mile jumble of house and car sized boulders arranged in such a way that climbing up around, through, and under them is necessary.  It was the most exciting jungle gym in the world!  When I hiked through there again a couple of decades later, it was just as grand.  Back in my childhood, I met two thru-hikers whose names I remember to this day: Woody and Ant.  They took some time to explain to our camp group that thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was a six month endeavor, following a trail through forest and mountains that covered 2,175 miles from Georgia to Maine.  It was then that the adventure seed was planted in my impressionable brain.

Mahoosuc Notch 2008

These are my stories: the blood, sweat, tears, and smiles; my adventures, misadventures, and just simply navigating this lifetime.  This blog is the story of me experiencing life and seeing the world through my [usually] open heart, sometimes gracefully…sometimes not so much.

But with all of it, as one of my adulthood teachers will deliberately say, “Well…isn’t that interesting.”