Monday, December 28, 2009

Late December, and (breathing deeply) above the clouds!

In these post-Christmas days, it was a treat to have the opportunity to go for an extended trail run under clear, blue skies on the last Sunday morning of December. Getting above the clouds on Mount Tzouhalem at this time of the year is pretty sweet! It was just above zero (Celcius) with lots of frost on the ground but the bright sunshine quickly penetrated the light jackets and made us feel quite overdressed. The Island mountains to the west and the Olympic range, south of the border, looked awesome with snow marking their highest elevations - breathtaking.

This past while, I've been trying to pay closer attention to the act of breathing. Sounds strange to say but for the most part, like a lot of us, I've taken this rather essential activity for granted and in so doing, missed out on some of the gifts of the ocean of air in which we live and thrive. Breathing well, and paying attention to the very act of breathing, can be one of the most relaxing (and exhilerating!) exercises imaginable. Breathing deeply, and through our noses, draws life-giving air deep into the widest part of our lungs - the bottom, where the greatest concentration of alveoli are poised to do their special job, which is to enable the oxygen to enter the blood-stream. Yup, pretty important. Breathing through the mouth, which we humans tend to do, results in much shallower breathing and the air not penetrating deeply to where it needs to be. Interestingly enough, it seems we're one of the only mammals that seems to have forgotten how to breathe properly and effectively! Ever watched a race horse? We won't find its mouth open as it, at breathtaking speed, races around the track. Dogs too, they only open their mouths to cool themselves.

Breathing mindfully is not easy but it's a discipline that sure seems worth working on. It enables us to exercise our bodies and mitigate the effects of everyday stress in such a way that we become healthier, happier, and more productive. It also makes us much more aware of, and connected to, the moment. Sounds all good to me.

Till the next time,


Image taken from near  "The Cross", on Mt. Tzouhalem,  looking to the west over Duncan, BC.


  1. I Hear You about breathing. Boy oh boy, am I finding out about the good and bad ways in these trying times. Continue to enjoy the last days of 2009.

  2. The view of the clouds from up here at the top of Mount Washington -- where it has been totally sunny! -- is amazing. Happy new year, guys. Time to start plotting for the next adventure.

  3. Happy New Year to you guys up at Mt W! Next adventure? We're in!!!

    Hi J, "breath" easy, the times will get better, be patient.

  4. I've been a bit skeptical and a tad cynical for as long as I can remember (due to the fact that "as long as I can remember" isn't all that long these days, I'm not sure if these traits were occupational pre-requisites or are results thereof).

    In any event, I was not immediately convinced by the hard sell of your blog at Church a couple of Sundays ago (of course, by "hard" I am speaking in relation to your own usually gentle demeanor and not what one might hear on TV or radio). Nonetheless, I immediately marked a little "*" on my copy of the Dove right beside the web site for your blog and I resolved to check it out at my first opportunity just as you had so forcefully admonished (Oh sure the "or else" was more implicit than explicit but I do recall thinking that reading your blog was a task of utmost importance).

    Perhaps this is not an appropriate venue for confessions, but I do confess that the resolution I made while sitting in the pew that Sunday did not remain as uppermost in my mind as I had intended it to at the time. In fact, had I not pulled the crumpled Dove from my coat pocket tonight while searching for a tissue, at a time that also happened to be opportune to sit down at a computer, I might have blown my resolution altogether(and it's not even mid January!).

    I just checked out your blog. I went back to the December 14 entry about your northern excursion first (the one you had spoken about that Sunday). I am SO glad I did. Thank you for sharing those moments you described so wonderfully.

    Then I read this week's instalment on breathing. I really enjoyed your description of the top of Mt. Tzouhalem. On Christmas Day I joined Fran, Claire, Emily, Peter, Jill, Shawn and Beth for a hike up to the Cross and your blog entry brought back the wonderful feelings I had during the hike up and down as well as the pause in between.

    Thank you for the long, slow, relaxing, and cleansing breath I just had. I needed it. There's a lot to be said for this pausing to breathe stuff. Oh, and thank you for the fresh air.


  5. Hi Rick,

    Thanks for stoping by. "Forcefully admonished"? Yikes, I must have missed the morning run that day! :) So glad you enjoyed the hike up Tzouhalem, it's a very special place, fully of beauty and mystery, high above the Cowichan Valley. We'll be sure to join you next time. As for the "fresh air", you're very long as you didn't mean "hot air"! Smile!

  6. Happy New Year from one of our fav mountain places! Get out on the ocean at least one more time before the end of '09 - no pressure though :-)!

    John C

  7. Ahh, John, I don't think we're going to make it before 0000hrs tonight...but maybe tomorrow. Always good to hear from you.

    Enjoy the summit as you always do and HNY to you!