Breath

In-breath / Out-breath, oil on canvas, 22″ x 30″

I’ve picked up painting over the holidays, working in the studio on a few new pieces over the past week. I’ve been wanting to paint again for awhile, being inspired by two different trips to New Mexico over the past couple of months. Having finished the work for my current exhibit, ‘That Which Is’ at Whitworth University, I’ve been freed up to play a bit with some ideas that have been floating around in my heart.

I was in northern New Mexico for a retreat of Interspiritual Meditation facilitators in August. While there, I set up some art supplies and made a creative space for people to make art while processing and pondering the insights received in meditation. I made several painting sketches during that time, and I chose one of those to work out more fully – the one on Breath.

May I Be Mindful of My Breathing – acrylic on canvas – 15″ x 18″

The biggest gift to me of contemplative practice, of which I have been engaged over the past few years, is discovering the depths of a breath.

I can begin to reorient myself in the space of this single breath. At the tip of that in-breath, when my lungs are filled, I am for a moment on the peak. I am grateful to be here. At the edge of the out-breath, having fully exhaled, I am for a moment at the mercy of the universe. I need help. Then, the breath begins again, and I receive life. I breath out, and I need help to keep going. And I oscillate between these two deepest swings of my life’s pendulum and these two deepest prayers: In-breath, out-breath. Inward, outward. Gratitude. Help. Gratitude. Help.

The longer I practice this breath/prayer, the more attuned I become to the present moment, and the more alive I feel. I pull out of anxiety and worry, and arrive right where I need to be. I am alive. I am well. I am being helped.

My second trip to New Mexico was a work trip to Santa Fe in October. My brief impression is that it’s a lovely region, and I’m taken at just how beloved the artists are here. There are dozens of galleries and museums, and there’s local art everywhere. Just talking to people who live here – you can really be any kind of artist, and you will find audience and acceptance for the work. This rich culture and its embrace of art makes me envious.

My few days there allowed me some time to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. This is what I wrote in my journal after the visit that evening:

That feeling I have – after beholding truly great art – I feel it burn in my gut – it tells me there is work to do, to make, to behold, and to be shared. It hums microscopically just beyond my fingertips.

The world has an unbelievable amount of beauty and joy, and it has an unbearable amount of pain and suffering. 2020 is going to be a crazy year and it’s going to be a tough year. Whatever happens in elections, people are going to be hurting. There is healing work to do.

My sacred intention for 2020 is to remember to breathe. To find that single, healing point – that peak – that space between the inbreath and outbreath, and remember.

My sacred intention for 2020 is to hold space for anyone who seeks that holy space within themselves. If you too seek this space, I’d love to learn more. Tell me where and how you find it. Tell me how it moves you; how it heals you. And if you want to find that space, let me know that too. I want to listen.

May the days and weeks and single moments ahead bring you healing, joy, and peace.