Hi friend, do you want to breathe sixteen breaths together?

I am here for this right now, to breathe sixteen breaths together, a tiny but meaningful mission, just right for the month of meaning.

Yes, I can already sense how much better I will feel when we devote sixteen breaths to the experience of [sixteen breaths].

Yes, my ribs and back feel more expansive just thinking about this.

I stretch my arms overhead with no agenda other than feeling how it feels. I brush away imaginary dust from between my ribs using my fingertips, I wiggle a bit because I am alive.

Come breathe with me these sixteen breaths, knowing-trusting-remembering that this practice of presence with our sixteen breaths is itself a living-out and reclaiming of the qualities and superpowers of self-treasuring:

Curiosity. Exploration. Play. Wonder.
Trust. Embodiment. Loving-Kindness. Glow.

A question.

What does it mean (hello again, month of meaning) to take this time?

Especially when we don’t have the time to take time? Or when we perceive that there is no time for taking time?

A response.

Sometimes, often, the monster collective whispers that there is no time for sixteen breaths, so let’s talk about that for a paragraph, and maybe someday I will expand on this, because I feel so strongly about this:

Taking this time for sixteen breaths is a small but vital act of Resistance, because it interrupts the external and internalized culture of go-go-go and do-do-do.

Interrupting patterns is how we subvert them, interrupting culture is how we subvert culture.

Taking sixteen breaths (or any time at all) to reconnect to ourselves is how we train our awareness and strengthen our light to illuminate all the patterns that need us to interrupt them and rewrite them.

Not only is there time for sixteen breaths, everything that happens after these sixteen breaths will be different and new because of how we have reconfigured our internal state, altering how we both perceive and react to everything we encounter.

The Rebel Alliance of sixteen breaths.

The act of observing a pattern changes the pattern, interrupting the pattern forces the pattern to reconfigure, and we are the rebel alliance of pattern-changers, we rewrite our patterns, sometimes lovingly and playfully, and sometimes with powerful intensity and sometimes with whatever we have in that moment.

Let’s breathe for this. And let’s begin.

Where are we?

If we are able to orient ourselves in space, we do this first.

I am turning myself to face north. Hello, north.

I am making myself comfortable,
asking my body if it wants any adjustments,
how could this feel better?

Then I settle in to be here now in these sixteen breaths, here I am, a body oriented towards north, ready.

If I don’t happen to know where north is in this moment or that is not a good direction for me right now, no big deal, a symbolic north works just as well, directly in front of me can be my north for the purpose of this experiment.

North is just another way to say I am here.

There are plenty of ways to say I am here, we can find one that feels supportive, everything we try is an experiment.

A breath for being here. I am here.

I am now the center of my compass,
my magnet-arrow center pulses with steady power,
center is home, I know where I am,
I can explore my edges, feel into circumference, return to center,
glow outwards, return to center,
breathe and feel how breath comes/fills deep inside of me,
return to center.

Yes yes we are here, and this is our north, now breathing northward…

A beginning.

Let’s breathe these sixteen breaths,
moving our attention around us in space,
circling an imaginary compass rose,
breathing clockwise and then counter-clockwise,
always returning north,
start point and star point.

Ready?

Ready.

A breath of awareness of the space right in front of me: NORTH!

Remaining in my steady center while moving my attention a few degrees to my right,
I feel northeast and breathe there, inhaling NORTHEAST and exhaling NORTHEAST.

My head and body stay centered and grounded, awareness cycles to the space to my right,
a breath in and a breath out for this space of EAST.

Attention moves behind my right hand, as if illuminating a blind spot,
I feel you SOUTHEAST and breathe in your direction.

And here breathing to the SOUTH, the space behind me, the sun sweet at my back.

Bringing awareness slowly to the back left-hand side, a breath for this space of SOUTHWEST.

Feeling the glow immediately to my left side, I breathe to you WEST.

Shifting attention again around the compass-face, breathing NORTHWEST.

Returning to north.

We return to north,
we settle into the center of this circle,
steady and clear,
this place of stillness and reverberating,
heart-home,
and we feel what is here,
inside the compass.

Spaciousness & Containment.

Compass breaths are powerful and reassuring to me,
but what I like best is not only to orient myself in space,
but to fill my space with breath/presence,
and infuse my space with what I want,
and feel-perceive a protective layer or boundary glowing around me.

This is where I feel held in my space,
this is where I feel myself in space,
this is where I am in conscious relationship with space,
claiming a circle of it for just me.

What do I mean when I refer to my space? Two things.

My internal space, body-mind, from organs to circulating breath to imagination,
all of my internal worlds and territories,
the vastness of who I am and what I contain.

And my immediately external space, this circle that holds me,
a vibrant force field whose glowing boundaries are both
called into being and maintained
through taking time to feel this compass
noticing what changes as it takes shape around me,
nestling inside it,
this round nest of contained spaciousness
that exists just for me.

Next we can add qualities to our compass!

I call in a compass for whatever I am currently working on,
and I name the qualities of my goal-wishes.

Here are two approaches I usually use for this, described below, you might find other methods and that is wonderful.

The [draw a circle on paper] method.

Sometimes I just draw a compass on paper,
and then let its qualities come to me.
Ah, here is what I want most right now: {TRUST}
Where does it want to go? EAST. Got it.

This method feels more like a cross between a puzzle,
and being a clear channel:
I feel into what qualities want to go where,
and then if they don’t tell me where they want to go,
I put them in different directions until something clicks.

(example)

This morning I needed a compass for a secret op,
and then it just came to me, each piece landing in order:

STRENGTH
BALANCE
EASE
GRACE
POWER
ADAPTABILITY
FLOW
TRIUMPH

This compass didn’t require any adjustments, but sometimes I play with placing words at different compass points, feeling for the strongest resonance. Often I name the cardinal directions first and then fill in the ordinals.

I have found that this intuitive method of calling in a compass gets easier over time, with practice, like most things, so if it seems challenging, maybe give this experiment a while. Or maybe you will like the next method better, or maybe you will invent your own!

The [make a giant list] method.

This is the form I generally use to craft a compass when working with a group at a rally or retreat. We come up with everything we want to call in to support the mission, and just add it all to the pot:

Play! FORTITUDE! Spontaneity! Laughter! Mayhem! Wonder! Effervescence! Pleasure! Serendipity! Exuberance! Insight! Messiness! Order! Conviviality! Clarity! Discernment! Solace!
Good Surprises!

Once you’ve gathered as many as appeal, you can run your finger over the list and wait for certain qualities to sort of sparkle at you.

Or maybe you’d prefer to circle the ones that seem more yes, or cross out those less mission-critical, whatever works best to help you arrive at your top eight. Then assign one to each direction and see how it feels.

If you can’t choose because they are all so good (I know, right?), you might like combining qualities into double compass, for example, north can be Glowing Clarity and south Grounded Vision.

And of course we can always decide that each quality secretly holds eight others, we can trust the fractal flowers, and remember that all qualities are related to each other, all qualities contain everything we could need.

Why do we compass / what is a compass used for?

Demarcating our space.

Awareness: let us name what is meaningful to us and then fill up on it.

For a more palpable sense of our boundaries.

For play and inventiveness, establishing and maintaining a state of receptivity.

To get more grounded in an unsteady world, an unsteady moment. Naming the compass qualities, breathing each one in and glowing it outward, this helps me stay centered, unshaken by the storm.

To change the feel in our internal space and the space around us.

For navigation. A compass helps me find my way. I may not know where I am headed, but I AM NOT LOST.

For resonance, a way to experience being a bell in the belltower, a compass is round like the sound of om, this is my bell-home, this is where I reverberate.

And this is how I reverberate: these are the qualities.

Yes, these are the qualities I wish to reverberate

My compass reminds me of what is most important to me right now,
it shows me what I wish to embody more fully

Here are the qualities that are most yes to me in this moment,
the qualities that will help me in the seas I’m currently navigating.

I name them, breathe them, feel them, call them in, learn to inhabit them,
let them surround me as I go about my day,
let them bring me back to intention and presence.

Center and periphery, and a note about People Vary!

Sometimes, for some people, it can feel easier to find center and expand sensation outward.

Sometimes, for some people, it can feel easier to find a sense of periphery and then draw/gather attention inward back to center.

Some people find the sensation/perception of encompassed by qualities to be soothing and grounding, other people do not want any sensation even close to [surrounded], that’s fine. Know yourself and choose what works for you.

Someone recently told me how they like to imagine qualities radiating/rippling/reverberating outwards into a force field while staying in the center. Layer qualities by radiating/rippling/reverberating multiples of them. I do this too.

Someone else I know has trouble feeling into center and can only get there from building a safe structure or boundary of breath qualities around them. Yup, that works too!

Just like in yoga, how we can build a shape from alignment/structure and then breathe life into it, or we can breathe our way into a shape, or we can do both at the same time. Work from the inside-out or the outside-in. See what you like.

When and where do we compass?

Whenever we remember, as often as possible.

I like to breathe into my compass when I wake up.

On the bus or while driving, I will think “ah, turning towards EASE”, or “yep, now we are heading in the direction of SIMPLICITY, how lovely.”

When I had a retreat center, we labeled the walls with the compass directions. People would sit by the direction or compass quality they felt most drawn to explore.

Turning with the compass.

Sometimes I like to stand (or sit or kneel) and face each direction in turn, breathing in the new quality and breathing it out, turning myself in a full slow circle, first one direction and then back.

You can also do sun salutations in each compass direction, if that is a thing you like, breathing the quality of that direction. If you want extra brain scrambling, you can assign a compass quality to each movement within the sun salutation and cycle through your compass that way too!

Come have yoga with me some day and we can do it together if that seems fun, or we can also do a lot of resting and hiding, I am super into the yoga of resting and hiding!

You can walk figure eights inside of your compass, naming each direction as you move through space. This feels amazing in a body of water…

Endless possibilities for movement and play, these are just idea sparks, expand on these if that is joyful for you, or maybe stillness and restoring are indicated, a compass is good for this too.

Establishing a default compass.

I like having a go-to compass for when I don’t want to (or can’t) do the work of coming up with a new one, for me this comes most in handy when I get PTSD-triggered. In that moment, I need something comforting and familiar, and I have zero bandwidth to figure out what qualities I might need while I’m disassociating and hyperventilating.

Another benefit to a compass you use regularly is that it’s all charged up with remembered sensation, the good feelings already anchored in your body and nervous system.

Compass poetry (this is my favorite technique!)

We will use my default compass for this
TRUST RELEASE LOVE RECEIVE ANCHOR CROWN GLOW WILD
but of course you are welcome to substitute
whatever qualities you like if any of those don’t work for you.

Here we go.

Compassing and encompassing from north, clockwise, then counter clockwise,
then crossing the compass to combine opposite directions,
cardinals and ordinals, and so on, in whatever combinations arise,
the qualities connect and reconnect in endless new combinations of flow and form,
letting them wash over us while we remain in calm still center:

Trust the releasing, love the receiving, anchor and be crowned, glow wild.
Wildly glowing, crowned and anchored, receiving love, releasing into trust.
Trusting the love, releasing and receiving, anchoring the glow, my crown of wildness.
Wild is the crown, my glow is now anchored, I receive to release, love and trust.
Trust in the anchor, release to be crowned, love is my glow, I receive my wildness.
Wildness received, glowing love, crown of releasing, anchored trust.

You can channel endless healing poetry of combined qualities for days, and all you need is a compass.

3-D compass (wait, no, this is my favorite technique!)

It might even be my favorite technique that I have ever invented.

DO YOU WANT TO TRY IT!!!! OH GOOD. I wish we could do this in person because it is amazing, and maybe we will some day.

Breathe in and breathe out to center.

Round 1: Feel into your circle of space. Let north be in front of you (or decide that the space in front of you is north. Sixteen breaths to cycle the qualities to your right and behind you and all the way back around, and reverse.

Round 2: Now north is above your head. Cycle the qualities in front of your space and behind you back to north and reverse. Sixteen breaths.

Round 3: North is above your head. Cycle the qualities to your right, and then below you and all the way back around, and reverse.

Breathe in and breathe out to center.

Reverberate.

What else can we want to say about compassing!

So much. You can compass-tarot! You can compass with superpowers.

You can turn a labyrinth into a compass or a compass into a labyrinth.

You can take any situation in your life and put it inside of a compass, and then see what happens.

Part of the play of self-fluency is that any technique is a door, not the answer, just the beginning of a new adventure. This is a favorite door for me, let’s play and see where we go.

Sixteen breaths, in companionship.

Around the compass.

A breath of TRUST.
A breath to RELEASE.
A breath for LOVE.
A breath for RECEIVING.
A breath for ANCHORING.
A breath to my CROWN.
A breath for GLOWING.
A breath to the place where I remember that I am WILD.
{reversing direction}
A breath for my WILD self.
A breath that GLOWS.
A breath that CROWNS me.
A breath that ANCHORS me.
A breath that helps me RECEIVE.
A breath that helps me LOVE and receive love.
A breath that helps me RELEASE.
A breath that helps me TRUST.

May it be so.

Invitation for companionship and play

You are invited to share !!!!!! about what is here, or anything sparked for you while reading.

Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving. We meet each other: with kindness and appreciation and awe

And a REQUEST!

If you’ve been at a Rally or retreat with me and we made a compass (haha of course we made a compass!) and you have a story or recollection related to that, please share!

Or if you’ve played with me in an online group space like the secret star society (come join us for 2018!) and you’ve had some good compass results, that is welcome too.

Glowing love and warmth your way, may we all find comfort and [whatever we need most right now] inside of a compass or these sixteen breaths.