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Breathe in Peace, Breathe Out Pain

During the recently passed holidays I got my usual case of annual ick.

Most parts sinus infection and all parts misery, it sidelined my birthday festivities, shot down my writing schedule and had me mainlining nasal spray like a pro.

But one thing I did get in spades – whether I wanted it or not – was time to think.

I thought all night long when I was too busy coughing to sleep.

I thought in the morning when I woke up, checked in with my brain, and realized it was on the “life in mental review” setting (not the “work hard and earn rent money” setting I was hoping for) yet again.

At some point, my emotions wanted in on the action and began producing their own custom-curated series of painful past recollections that nearly ensured they could get in on the sick week action.

Since I was too tired, achy, sneezy and congested to protest, this worked really well.

Often I like to take walks or go for bike rides when this sort of thing starts unfolding. For obvious reasons, both were out of the question.

So I did the next best thing…..

Breathe in peace, breathe out pain.

Breathe in peace, breathe out pain.

Breathe in peace, breathe out pain.

As I lay in bed…or lay on the couch….(my casa is one room, so there aren’t too many options) and the reflection process continued, I could feel the wisdom of using breath to accept and release what could no longer be changed.

While often I would catch myself thinking, “It would make a lot more sense if I breathed out the pain first and then breathed in the peace,” this particular method doesn’t seem to work that way.

Somehow, focusing on peace first gives me courage and willingness to let the pain trapped inside me finally go free.

Welcoming peace first supports me to stop blaming myself, shaming myself, or tripping and falling into another familiar round of rationalizing anger or hopeless sadness, and helps me simply LET. IT. GO.

I mean, why not, really?

I could do better now, but there is about a 99.999+ certainty that now I would never be in any of those situations to start with.

In other words, me-now would make different choices in nearly every way – about people, places, things, words, actions, inactions – in fact, sometimes it is awfully challenging to even recognize me-then as a part of me-now. We are so different.

But if I were able to suddenly go back to being me-then for a do-over, I would likely do everything exactly the same as I did it when I really was me-then.

This would then likely create the exact same set of painful recollections – the ones that me-now has the delightful task of sifting through, learning from and attempting to let go of.

Which makes breathing in peace and breathing out pain the smart play here.

And since it presented itself to me with total spontaneity – like, “Hey, you – yes, you, the one with all the germs who is just lying there marinating in miserable memories. Remember me? Why don’t you try using me here?” – I have to believe it was my inner mentor’s idea of a particularly well-chosen, well-timed birthday gift.

Nice. Thanks.

Today’s Takeaway: Do you have certain memories that just don’t seem to want to let go of you? Do they cling so robustly, finding ever more creative ways to re-insert themselves into your present-day consciousness, keen to ensure you never forget for whatever reasons? What works to help you begin to release these persistent recollections, in the moment they reappear and also for the longer term?

Breathe in Peace, Breathe Out Pain

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2017). Breathe in Peace, Breathe Out Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Jan 2017
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