Search Results for: oxygen is the real drug

Breath

I’ve expressed my gratitude for breath before: “Oxygen is the real drug; breathing, the ultimate high.” Quoting myself! I’ve thought about breath a lot over the past decades, more since I began meditating, which curiously coincided with the end of a couple year asthma phase. My precious teacher told me at the time that sometimes people with breathing difficulties do better meditating with a different anchor than the breath. Did I take that as a challenge, or was I simply drawn to the breath because I had been all along? Either way, I’m grateful for how the past twelve years of meditation have increased familiarity with my breath.

I had a grade school understanding of how our lungs work, but until today I didn’t really comprehend how blood gets oxygenated. I’m grateful my NP sent me for pulmonary functions tests today, and grateful for the kind and focused attention of the respiratory therapist Melissa who gave me a quick lesson on lung anatomy, asthma, oxygen saturation, and why altitude matters. Yes, I suffered second-hand smoke from in utero until I left for college at 18; yes, my alveoli are functioning ever so slightly below normal; yes, I have what could be described as mild bronchial obstruction (asthma) that did not improve with an inhaler; but, unfortunately, her tests didn’t seem to reveal the reason behind my chronically low oxygen saturation. We’ll know more after the pulmonologist reviews the results, but in the meantime she concurs with NP that the next step is to get me onto night oxygen. She doesn’t think I should move to the coast of Maine, as the pressure gradient in humid sea level climes often exacerbates breathing difficulty, so there goes that fantasy.

There are complications to be worked out with the night oxygen, primary being that living on solar power I simply don’t have the electricity to run an oxygen concentrator. Period. I’m researching options. More will be revealed. Meanwhile, this whole exploration reminds me how grateful I am for each breath, and for the impaired but nevertheless miraculous lungs that diffuse oxygen into my blood and pull carbon dioxide out.

And in that perfect timing sort of way, a new avenue of respiratory therapy has opened up synchronistically. My dear teacher at the Hotchkiss Yoga Tree now offers a Pranayama class that can be taken via Zoom. I joined for the first time yesterday, and am excited and grateful to add this Tuesday class to my calendar, and incorporate the magic of Pranayama into my daily practice. Wishing you all Happy Breathing!

The Joy of Each Breath

I’m grateful for being able to breathe fresh, clean mountain air.

I’m grateful for every single breath, whether or not I’m aware of it, and I try to be aware of my breath many times during the day. Sometimes just a single breath, sometimes a few, sometimes for five minutes, or twenty-five, I focus on the sensation of the breath.

My friend Kim and I try to meditate spontaneously together once a day. One of us will text an invitation, and usually within a few minutes we’ve both settled somewhere quiet with a guided meditation, or just a silent timer set for five or ten minutes. “The joy of each breath” comes from a meditation we did this evening, led by Peter Harper, The Drunken Monk, on Insight Timer. The joy of each breath. It really is a joy when you can breathe fully, and take a moment to pause, notice, and really feel a single inhalation-exhalation cycle. Or give yourself ten minutes to truly allow yourself to relax, release, let go. Relaxation is a skill not well known nor practiced in this predominant culture. It’s so much more than kicking back on the couch with a beer watching TV, or sitting on the deck with a martini savoring sunset, or having a great time pursuing any kind of sensory stimulation. It’s letting go of all that, resting in the stillness of nowhere to go, nothing to do. Each breath really is a miracle.

I’m grateful I had shells and homemade sauce in the pantry, ricotta and kale in the fridge. It was a good day to make stuffed shells, sprinkled with a little mozzarella because everything is better with cheese. The recipe came from a Level 4 Vegan cookbook, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. I fried the onions in bacon grease and used real cheese, but technically a vegan could make this delicious meal, which proportionizes readily for freezing.
Three for lunch (these are gigantic shells), and two fives for later.

Because several people asked for the Cheesos recipe, here are the sources of inspiration for both Cheesos and the Shells. I’m not entirely digital – I still love actual cookbooks, and have a few reliable go-tos besides my own 3×5 card file, a folder of printed recipes, my mother’s lifetime recipe notebook, and two staples that forged my appetite: mom relied on The Joy of Cooking, and the Colonel swore by Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School bible. I’m also grateful for cookbooks!

Cheesos recipe from the 21-Day Ketogenic Weight Loss Challenge book.
The “NEW” Fannie Farmer, ©1951 — it’s older than I am!

Sometimes during the day, after I notice something like these cookbooks, and pay attention, and take stock of the luxuries in my life, I take a deep breath – a big sigh – and am suddenly aware of this breath – and then this breath – and I recognize the astonishing chain of events that led to my being here, in this moment, holding this cookbook that is older than I am. Each breath is a miracle. Oxygen is the real drug; breathing, the ultimate high.