Mindful Breath in Autumn

BREATHE! Remembering to breathe consciously sounds simple. Breath is the

anchor for our physical existence; however, I frequently observe people who are holding

their breath as they go about their life and work. There is a certain tension that is evident

on their faces, eyes are wide, shoulders are hunched, and words tend to come out in

subtle gasps as they engage in conversation. Interestingly, “Remember to breathe!” is

usually well received even if the advice comes from a stranger.

I saw a “breath-holding” scenario unfold the other day in a small café. The clerk

was preparing breakfast take-out orders for a few people who were gathered around the

cash register. Everything was very efficient, but there was not much conversation or

meaningful interaction other than the essentials for completing the transactions. I was the

last one to be served and the clerk laughed when I suggested, “Remember to breathe!”

She took a deep breath and proceeded to tell me how busy she had been, and that she had

not gotten the coffee station re-stocked. “I NEED to get that done”…she was back to

breath-holding again. She allowed me to help her refill the half and half canister and

sugar packets while she filled the pump pot with regular coffee, brewed the decaf, wiped

the counter clean and returned to the cash register. She gave me a vague smile, a quick

“thank you” and was off to her next task, shoulders hunched. New customers had


I find it interesting to apply the “breath-holding” phenomenon to the WholeHeart

Wellness Model. As I glance through the chambers I recognize the impact breath has on

all aspects of our wellness. Combining the chambers serves to remind me that we are

entrusted with the task of balancing the various parts of ourselves as we strive for

wellness and I am left with questions that beg to be explored.

Has our way of life evolved into a stress-ridden combination of working at

breakneck speed and superficial interactions that result in mind-blurring fatigue and

breathlessness? How can we encourage a culture that allows spaciousness, engages in

meaningful communication, self-care and trust building? (Note: This is exactly what

WholeHeart strives to offer in our workshops!)

I am reminded that the word “breath” comes from the Latin word “spiro” which

means, “I live” which in turn is the basis for “spiritus” which means, “spiritual breath”.

Seems like the WholeHeart Wellness chambers are best served as we remember to

breathe consciously!

Terrie Keppel

Co-founder and Program Director of WholeHeart

October 12, 2016