I was startled out of a deep sleep early this morning by tsunami warnings on all of my digital devices. Living so close to the ocean, and having no experience whatsoever with erupting underwater volcanoes or tsunamis, I threw on some clothes, grabbed my phone, laptop and essential documents, and jumped in the car to drive to higher ground. Thankfully my gas tank was full and several loved ones called to reassure me that the risk was very low and it was safe to return home.
I drove home and went for a 5 mile walk in the trees to release some of the stress and tension. The relief was fleeting. Shortly thereafter, I began hearing news reports about the hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas. I was texting with friends, family members and colleagues all day, intermittently watching the news on TV (which is rare for me), interspersed with checking social media for updates and any tiny crumb of hope.
I held my breath all day, finally exhaling upon hearing that the hostages were all released and safe. This day will be a life-changing traumatic experience for all of them.
Later I called a friend and we sat on the phone in silence, co-regulating our nervous systems through the simple act of breathing together. I’d done this for others so many times, particularly since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Whether with other humans or even with beloved pets, breathing together is a practice of soothing and regulating the nervous system that starts in early childhood, and we also need it as adults.
Breathe it in.
Let it out.
Breathe it in. Let it go.
-Lyrics from “Breathe It In” sung by Beautiful Chorus