I know you have a lot to accomplish over this week — perhaps some fun traveling and sightseeing, or even service to experience. At the Truitt Center, we are offering our first interfaith service week, so we know both the excitement and relief pending a few more days of class and the inevitable stack of assignments and midterms. I’m not going anywhere, and still I’m thrilled at the hope of a week with fewer evening events and a little space to work at my own pace, and to breathe a bit.
We don’t talk much about breathing at Elon. Some of what we experience around here is more appropriately called hyperventilating than breathing.
In trauma recovery work, we teach survivors to breathe deeply and well. Did you know that 10 deep breaths will connect your left and right brain hemispheres, will tune you back into your feelings, will open your thinking spaces, will lower your blood pressure, ease physical pain and calm anxiety and open spiritual sources of power external to yourself? All of this, in 10 deep breaths.
I don’t know why we don’t stop more often to take deep breaths. Actually, I do. Many of us feel that we don’t have time to breathe. But time is a relative phenomenon — if you think you need more time, you just have to make it.
The 16th Century Christian reformer Martin Luther prayed every morning for three hours. But on busy or stressful days when he didn’t have time to pray, he got up one hour earlier to pray for not three but four hours.
On the days he didn’t have time to pray, he prayed even more, because it was that important for his work and survival. It is the same for us. If we don’t have time to breathe, those are the moments when we need most to make time for 10 deep breaths. It takes only two small minutes to set us straight again, or at least to help us better face what is to come.
So what does this have to do with Spring Break? Spring Break is your opportunity to take deep breaths, spend a little more time reflecting about what everything in your life means and to give yourself the time to care for yourself in ways you don’t often get at Elon. Spring Break is a chance to rest, to pray, to breathe and to center. Don’t forget to give yourself that healing time, and to bring it back with you for a great end of semester. Let us know, at the Truitt Center, how we can help you breathe.