Is your breath happy here?

Photo by  Aditya Saxena  on  Unsplash

This morning, one of my dearest friends shared a poem with me by Nayyirah Waheed.

things. that should be asked

often. in every type. of


how is your heart.

is your breath happy. here.

do you feel free. 

"Is your breath happy here?" This is a question that I often pose to friends who come to my yoga classes. It's also one that I ask myself when I notice that I've stopped breathing. 

It's one thing to try to understand our relationships with other people and it's another thing to even recognize the relationship that we have with ourselves. How often do we ask the questions Waheed highlights in her poem to ourselves? How often do we pretend to care about ourselves? 

The relationship that we have with ourselves is perhaps one of the most significant predictors of the quality of the relationships that we have with the people around us.

How are we to see into another person's heart if we don't feel our own heart beating? 

I love the way Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh breathes life into idea of the art of loving the self and others. He suggests that genuine love is built upon four principles: 1) loving kindness 2) compassion 3) joy and 4) equanimity. These core principles are sprinkled with trust + confidence. 

Nhat Hanh defines loving kindness as the ability to offer happiness (to others, to yourself). He says, "Build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself." And with acceptance comes understanding -- and with understanding comes love.

Perhaps, compassion is born out of this understanding that there is a part of us that asks for permission to heal.

Whether we grant ourselves this permission says a lot about our willingness to feel hurt, broken, and vulnerable. 

Then we can ask ourselves:

how is your heart? 

is your breath happy here?

Do you feel free?

*Do you feel love(d)?


**Special thanks to Brain Pickings for inspiration