How Are You Doing?

Are you breathing for 15 minutes twice a day? Are you breathing for longer? Are you drinking plenty of water? Feeling gratitude every day? Really, I want to hear from you. Take a moment to write so we can all know how you’re doing.

A couple of you thought that prostrating was quite a weird idea! Imagine that. One of you even asked if I’d become a Buddhist. I’ve never studied Buddhism, unless you count reading Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, and any religious association I have with prostrating one’s self must come from my Roman Catholic youth. Weird or not, if you haven’t tried it, do.

Where Am I?

I’m still in North Dakota. Autumn on the prairie is beautiful. The grasses are russet and red, the fields harvested of oats are brilliant gold, and the trees are at their peak color. We go for long drives on the weekends, marveling at the landscape. Have you watched the movie Dances With Wolves? It could have been filmed outside our door. That is exactly the landscape I live in.

To The Cities

Nonetheless, I’m itching to move on — I have hitch itch. But we’ll probably be here until the weather is consistently too cold for our trailer, so I’m planning a trip to Minneapolis. I’ll be in the cities Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the 27th, 28th, and 29th. It’s a long drive, 500 miles each way, and I’m trusting it will calm my restlessness for a while. I’ll have time for a few readings — if you’re there and want to meet with me, get in touch soon.

Dry Eyes

I got a note from a new reader.

I recently found your website, read your newsletter, and decided to give it a try. I’ve been practicing your breath and water suggestion for three weeks and I’ve had a small miracle. For decades I have suffered from dry eyes. I’ve seen ophthalmologists, optometrists, and family practice doctors. They’ve given me eye drops and prescriptions for medications (which I admit I haven’t taken.) Never once in all those years did any of them suggest that I drink more water. Now after only three weeks of breathing for 15 minutes twice a day and drinking 8 glasses of water a day, my eyes are fine! I reach for my eye drops many times a day, only to realize that I don’t need them! I’m telling everyone about your newsletter.

Thanks for telling us about your eyes. I am again and again profoundly impressed and humbled when I realize our bodies’ innate determination to move toward balance and well-being. I love to hear how the breath and water practice has helped you, and love to share your stories with all of us.

What We Cannot Know

I was talking with a friend, who mentioned that she knew people who were jealous of her success. She said, “They think they want what I have, but if they knew what the past 30 years have been like for me, they’d run screaming in the other direction.”

It’s not unusual to want what we think others have, or to compare ourselves with someone else. It is especially useful at those times to remember that we don’t (and can’t) really know anything about anyone else’s story, and to pretend that we do know is folly. Here’s a poem I saw on the Writers Almanac.

If on your grandmother’s birthday you burn a candle
To honor her memory, you might think of burning an extra
To honor the memory of someone who never met her,
A man who may have come to the town she lived in
Looking for work and never found it.
Picture him taking a stroll one morning,
After a month of grief with the want ads,
To refresh himself in the park before moving on.
Suppose he notices on the gravel path the shards
Of a green glass bottle that your grandmother,
Then still a girl, will be destined to step on
When she wanders barefoot away from her school picnic
If he doesn’t stoop down and scoop the mess up
With the want-ad section and carry it to a trash can.
For you to burn a candle for him
You needn’t suppose the cut would be a deep one,
Just deep enough to keep her at home
The night of the hay ride when she meets Helen,
Who is soon to become her dearest friend,
Whose brother George, thirty years later,
Helps your grandfather with a loan so his shoe store
Doesn’t go under in the Great Depression
And his son, your father, is able to stay in school
Where his love of learning is fanned into flames,
A love he labors, later, to kindle in you.
How grateful you are for your father’s efforts
Is shown by the candles you’ve burned for him.
But today, for a change, why not a candle
For the man whose name is unknown to you?
Take a moment to wonder whether he died at home
With friends and family or alone on the road,
On the look-out for no one to sit at his bedside
And hold his hand, the very hand
It’s time for you to imagine holding.
— Carl Dennis, from New and Selected Poems 1974-2004