Forgetting the Thing I Need the Most

Today, I attended that Body Combat class that once made me cry. 

I’m front and center with the petite and perky trainer staring right into my eyes.  With every muscle toned and every skin surface glistening, she encourages me to “own the space” around me and to “no longer be a prisoner.”  As I punch and kick the air, I imagine some unnamed demon–depression, failure, regret–and I attack fiercely and swiftly.

I’m working hard.

Then, at the point of my exhaustion, the trainer says, “Don’t forget to breathe.”  It’s silly.  How could I forget?  Why do trainers always command us to do something so simple and intuitive?  Breathe.  

I ask her why we have to be reminded.

She says (in between one-handed push ups and military crawls) that when the body is working hardest, it forgets the thing it needs the most.  The focus on the task (utilizing muscles in difficult configurations) means we forget to breathe.  We hold our breath as we focus. 

“So I have to remind you.  There’s no quicker way to fatigue the body than to forget to breathe.”

Her lesson in breathing at the point of my most focused and hardest work reminds me that what seems automatic and intuitive often freezes up when I’m working.  I fatigue myself because I’m neglecting the thing I need the most. 

When I’m fatigued like this, I need to ask myself what I’m neglecting that I need the most.

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