The weight of a heavy sigh

In yoga class we sometimes let it all out with a sighing sort of breath and it feels good, but this might not be something to necessarily do in front of the kids.  As we head into the holidays, a season heavy with family dynamics and ghosts of the past, beware the heavy sigh.

As a child, I always looked forward to the weekend, and yet I often hated Sundays.  As it would start to get dark on Sunday afternoon, especially in the winter, I could already feel the gloom of Monday reaching back for me before that day even started.  While my dad was rarely a yeller, he could let out a sigh so heavy from behind the barricade of his Wall Street Journal that it made you want to open a vein.

Sundays and their heavy sighs emotionally kicked my butt so hard that when I became able to make my own calendar I set it up, and not only for childcare reasons, so that I don’t see clients on Mondays.  This has allowed me to really enjoy Sundays, and since I love my work, I now enjoy Monday evenings even though Tuesday and the start of my workweek will surely follow.

The point of this post is that the heavy sigh is not a benign gesture.  Sighing with thinly veiled misery or contempt is not a non-violent and peaceful way to express disgust with questions from children such as, “Are we going to do anything today?”  Nor is it a loving comeback to statements such as, “I’m bored.”  It’s not a great response to sibling bickering, or to requests from a spouse for assistance.  Yes, kids can make us feel like unleashing the heavy sigh on them, but that’s because they’re giving us their own heavy sigh because they can’t hold it.

I admit that I have been prone to the heavy sigh, but I’m trying to be more conscious about it and suspect that I can’t be the only one who still occasionally lapses into this arcane method of shaming and depressing others.  There might be some genetic component to the heavy sigh (although I’ve seen no research on it), but either way I think we can find a way to just make it a deep cleansing breath without a toxic after bite.

The Celtic writer, Jon O’Donohue writes, in Anam Cara, of a simple meditation where you breathe in love and breathe out fear and desire.  I love this and find it very healing, however, one must be sure to keep it Celtic and not go depressed Russian Jewish. 

So, let’s dedicate today to breathing in love, and breathing out fear and desire—as well as breathing out attitude, shame and guilt (but not into our children).  If our sighs get exceptionally heavy, maybe we should think about them like farts and either say, “excuse me,” and/or go outside.  

Namaste, Bruce

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One Response to “The weight of a heavy sigh”

  1. Laurie Says:

    Wonderful. While reading this out loud my partner said as a child she too hated Sundays. I need to watch my sighs as the world is a little heavy these days. Thank you for the reminder and thank you so much for your wonderful writings.

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