When We Don't Know How We Feel Yet

I ask the chiropractor about my hip. 

It's not uncomfortable, I say. It sure can get that way, though. Stretching helps prevent that. But I don't know when I've stretched too much until it's too late and it's really upset.

I rub my hip apologetically. I guess it's that my hip doesn't talk to me much, I say. 

The chiropractor smiles. She has eyes that make you feel like everything will be okay and hands that prove it. When she sees me, she asks, "How's my beautiful lady?" After adjusting my neck, back, hips, she exclaims, "Delicious!" and sends me off into the world feeling like it is. 

Well, she says, patting the hip in question, pay attention to how you feel getting into the stretch. Then, notice your breath. If it's shallow and fast, that's probably too much. If it's slow and even, that's probably a good stretch. Your breath will tell you. 

I nod. And I will think of it when I'm stretching. But I will also think of it when a conversation takes a turn I'm not sure about. When I'm given an answer I didn't see coming. Or when I think a boundary has been crossed, but I'm not sure. 

When we don't know how we feel yet, our breath can often tell us before our mind knows. 

It doesn't mean we'll know precisely what to do. But if we can tune into the quality of breath we're taking, we may get insight into whether this situation is too much or a good stretch for us. 

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