The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

December 2018: Heartbeats

Posted on Dec 23, 2018

December 2018: Heartbeats

Something I do to relax, unwind, de-stress (with not enough regularity) is to submerse myself in a tub of sudsy, hot water until my ears are submerged, leaving the rest of my face above the water. This acts as a decompression chamber for me. Once I slow my mind, its noise subsides; and all I can hear is my breathing and my heart beating.

When I can focus my attention on these two things: breaths and heartbeats—a “surreality” sets in. Everything floats away. It is just me, as au naturel as it gets. Lungs and heart doing their thing. My body in perfect harmony. No interruptions or distractions. Having a total in-my-body experience. As a woman, this is a close as it gets to emptying my mind. A limited shut off button, or a reset button, if you will.

No. The cares of the world haven’t changed significantly once I emerge from my water chamber, but I have. I feel reborn in an inexplicable way. I am not the same person who entered the chamber. Just as with any reboot, the operating system doesn’t restart exactly as before. A reconfiguration takes place.

That is what it is like when I give my brain a break by having an in-my-body water experience. I am held in place by space and time (and the solid support of a bathtub) sufficiently that I can completely relax, enough to “float” and concentrate on the essence of Life: breaths and beats.

I also peruse any manner of reading material before or after decompression. For this entry, I will share with you the words of a poet.

Giver of life, giver of breath

You, the mystery in our breath

the light in our breath

the breath of our breath

You who are life

without whom there is no life

in whom there is no death…

We desire, in our bodies

in our hearts, in our souls

and between us

and between all breathing beings

a harmony like the harmony

of the stars and planets

shining and whirling for Your sake

a music

like the music of the spheres

~from “Supplication” by Pir Zia Inayat-khar published in Presence. Vol. 21. No. 4. December 2015.


Such poetic words about breath and breathing! The only time I give my own breaths a chance to be even remotely poetic would be in my decompression chamber. Somehow that which is the very function of every day life becomes soothing when heard under water—with only the steady drumbeat of my heart to accompany the rhythm.

Music. The music of my body. My body in perfect harmony.

For those briefest of moments, there is total absence of chaos. Pure serenity. Very rare in this day and age—and at this time of year.

How will you find serenity—your own version of peace—this holiday season? If I may offer a suggestion, maybe take a stolen moment to savour the words of the above poem? Let the words trip over your tongue, tickling your imagination, your breath connecting you to every other breathing being, connecting to the harmony we crave this season.

May the winds of change—the true essence of this time of year on so many levels—refresh your spirit for the coming year.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

~Leonard Cohen


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