Sometimes I hold my breath without knowing it. It’s usually when I’m acutely stressed or deep in concentration. But once I realize I’m not breathing, the sweet release of the long exhale brings me back to the present. Then I take a deep inhale, hold for two beats and let the second long exhale calm me. Because this is my body’s way of letting me know I hit my limit. I need a break, I need to reduce my stress. 

I need to breathe.

The awareness of the breath is also an essential component of yoga and meditation, both of which I’ve been practicing for years. But because of an emergency appendectomy and, most recently, a lower back injury, I’ve had to take breaks from yoga, and because of, well, laziness, I haven’t been meditating with the frequency I once used to. I need to get back to yoga, I need to get back to meditating.

I need to breathe.

One of the 42 books I read in 2021 was Breath by James Nestor, a fascinating insight into how the way we breathe can affect our health. I immediately adopted one of the most basic takeaways of the author’s research: nose breathing instead of mouth breathing. I instantly felt the benefits, and I found that reminding myself to close my mouth to breathe reminded me I need to be mindful, I need to practice self-care.

I need to breathe.

For all these reasons, it became clear to me what my 2022 word should be.

In all its simplicity, that word is:

I want to find my breath again. 

I want to be mindful again.

I want to meditate again.

I want to practice more self-care again.

I want to stop holding my breath.

So I’m going back to simplicity, back to basics.

Everything starts with the breath.

Breathe.

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