Holding my breath

In one of the breathing exercises that I’ve been reading about recently, it was suggested that as I reached the fullness of my in-breath, I should pause, for just a moment, before exhalation.  Noticing this pause would help to quieten the mind if practiced regularly.

Now, I’m only at the beginning of this journey but during my first attempts of this practice, my thoughts were taken right back to my childhood, to the swing tied to a big sycamore tree in the back garden.  When alone, it was always exciting to see how high I could go; backwards and forwards, higher and higher!

Do you remember such moments, magical moments?  For a second you floated, before gravity pulled you back towards the earth.  This is what I recalled when I first started mindful breathing; a moment of wonder.


Today, I’m thinking of another magical moment, the winter solstice.  I know the exact moment when the short dark days change to being longer and brighter, but being outside in the garden this morning, listening to the birds, I was aware of the underlying energy.  A time of transition from cold and dark to growing warmth and light!

Why not celebrate this wonderful moment, this shift in the cycle of life and open yourself to being a part of Nature.

A woven garland,
Dressed with evergreens,
Hanging on an open door!

Happy Winter Solstice!


35 thoughts on “Holding my breath

  1. Sweet post Ashley. My backyard swing was two tall telephone poles with a cut out tire seat. I could go so high. Sometimes it was a scary moment before the swing started back and sometimes that floating moment 🙂

    Happy Solstice!

  2. What wonderful thoughts to share, dear Ashley! I love the feeling of being on the swing and have a picture on it, although, not as a child. I tried the breathing practice you describe but didn’t persevere, must try again.
    The Winter Solstice is significant and celebrated in many parts of the world s it brings the welcome
    change of the light.

    And being part of Nature is my mantra!

    Thank you !


    1. Dear Joanna, I love this moment (the solstice here was at 03.58 pm) because even though the change in light is tiny just now, it grows and grows. You must try again with the breathing exercises. Be mindful and meditate. 🙏 Thank you for your comments 🤗💐🌹🙋‍♂️

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Marina. Like so many, I have been anticipating this moment for weeks and now it is here. Happiness is………..the return of the light. 🌹🎋🙋‍♂️

  3. Happy winter solstice to you, Ashely. (it’s also my birthday) I know what you mean about pausing on the in-breath. I wish you well with the Qigong. I’ve practised that for many years now, various styles, though the pandemic knocked the wind out of our little martial arts group, if you’ll pardon the pun, and I’ve still to catch up with them again. It takes a while to get going, but I found it made a big difference to me, physically and mentally.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Michael. I used to do Tai Chi when we lived in England and initially couldn’t find a seriously good class here. Eventually, I did find one but it was an hour’s drive away and it was winter and I was still working. Whilst recovering from back problems, sciatica, lockdown last year I found Qi Gong online and I love it! The breathing exercises came about because I started meditation. All these things I hope will accompany me until ………….! I also have a growing interest in Japanese and Chinese poetry and art. Oh, I nearly forgot (an age thing) HAPPY BIRTHDAY🎂🎋🙋‍♂️ Ashley

  4. What a beautiful and magical post, Ashley. Happy Winter Solstice! I am doing those breathing exercises with my meditation app too and I like them very much, they really bring you into the Now.
    I love when the days get longer again, slowly but surely.

    1. Hi Ute! Oh, yes, longer days and increasing light. It may only be in small increments, but it is exciting to watch and feel the progress towards the spring equinox in March. Thanks for your lovely comments💐🙋‍♂️

  5. You have put together such wonderful images and thoughts. I love the pause between the in breath and the out breath and that same pause on the swing before changing direction. Happy winter solstice to you, I can’t wait to experience it in the northern hemisphere! I think it is a precious time… Waiting and seeing the changes. Blessed light be to you 🤗💐🙋‍♀️

    1. Dear Morag, it is lovely to hear from you. I imagine it is hot where you are so you will have to get used to cooler temperatures here. Woolly hats and gloves! Thank you for your lovely comments. Winter solstice blessings to you 💐🤗🙋‍♂️

      1. Thank you, it has been the hottest day yet this December and we did most of our move to the flat today. It is a special day in many ways for us. Take care 🙋‍♀️

  6. I spent Tōji “hiking” at a park, and celebrated the day with many different kinds of birds, some deer, and other hikers. It was a great day! Beautiful Yule hokku, Ash-sama! Happy Tōji, Ash-tree!

    1. Happy Winter Solstice, dear Edo! It’s good to hear from you and know that you are out there exploring nature. Here, it is raining again and the garden birds dash in and out to the feeder. It’s fun to watch them.🎋 🙋‍♂️

  7. The warmest post dear Ashley. Took me to sun and light. Please keep on practicing kumbhak : rechak : purak – old sanskrit/hindi names of this breathing excersice. It’s great to know that you are practicing it well. Thank you for this.

    Narayan x

    1. Dear Narayan, I will have to look up those names. Coming to this so late in life means that I have much to learn in a shorter time. For a few months now I have found Qi Gong to help me stay mobile; I wish I’d discovered it earlier as I had done Tai Chi many years ago when living in England but work and much else “got in the way”. More recently, I also happened upon a book about Kum Nye which is where I learnt about this breathing practice. In many ways, life since retirement from work 6 years ago, has added a new impetus, new energy, and I find I’m returning to a more creative life. Happy Winter Solstice 🎋🙋‍♂️

  8. Those sound like wonderful memories Ashley! I’m looking forward to the days getting longer, minute by minute… 🙂

  9. Ashley, thank you for this beautiful and magical post. I remember, I visited “Stonehenge” a few years ago. I was able to look at the facility from the Neolithic age behind a barrier. We were told that thousands of people celebrate there, especially on the summer and winter solstices. Then the guests can stand right next to the stone colossi.
    Ashley, I wish you and your family a merry Christmas! ❤️ 🎅🎁 🎄
    Keep well, happy and safe.
    Rosie from Germany

    1. Dear Rosie, I have not visited Stonehenge but driven by many times in the past. It would be something wonderful to visit at the winter solstice. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Christmas 💖💌🎄🙋‍♂️

  10. Hi, Ashley, this is such a lovely post! I admire your determination to be more & more healthy in every way! And, I appreciate your encouraging others to include Nature in their celebrations. Hoping your & your wife’s holiday celebrations are a delight! 🌞

    1. Dear Lisa, I wish I had paid more attention to my health in my earlier years, still, I might be slower but surely wiser 😊. Thank you for your lovely comments; the holiday includes a golden celebration 💑 It will be a quiet day but a happy one 🙋‍♂️

  11. You know, it’s great to read about you swinging in the swing. This takes me back to my childhood. There was a large mulberry tree in my aunt’s countryside and as a child I used to swing in the swing my father had put on. It was beautiful and I remember that moment when you are suspended before going back. About breathing exercises I had read something in a yoga book, where they said this thing to hold back before exhaling. I can restrain myself but my problem is that I cannot exhale well. I have some kind of blockage in my diaphragm, possibly due to the compression I underwent as a child. In fact, I have trouble breathing. And it’s also a psychological thing, that is, I can’t come up with something and I don’t know what it is yet. You haven’t been on any swing anymore? Have you ever done yoga? How nice the winter solstice !!! Long live the sun and the light. 🌞🌞🌞🌈

    1. It would be nice to have a swing again, maybe when I’m next in the park I’ll have a go, unless the children object! I’ve not done yoga but have done Tai Chi in the past. Currently learning Qi Gong. The winter solstice is the best time in winter! The return of the light is uplifting even if it is only by small increments to start with. 😎🌹🙋‍♂️

    1. Thank you, Andrea, I shall continue with mindful breathing and maybe next time I’m in the park I’ll have a go on the swings 😊 unless of course the children chase me off 🌹🙋‍♂️

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