News Flash…There Will Be Silence!

Nyepi SilenceSilence is serious business in Bali. New Year’s Day falls on March 31 this year and it’s a big deal. If you’re a traveler vacationing here, you are confined to your hotel. Cable broadcasting in Indonesia is turned off. The use of electricity is discouraged. There are no vehicles allowed on the roads with the exception of emergency transport. If you venture out you run the risk of being fined by the vigilant Pecalang, local men who police the streets for offenders. And the airport is closed.

I’ve only experienced this kind of silence once before. It followed a day that will remain indelibly imprinted on my memory for the rest of my life. September 11, 2001. Air traffic over America ceased. People cowered in their homes, wondering where and when the next terror would strike.

Today, with the brilliant blue skies over Bali undisturbed by the thunder of jet engines, I remember. Nyepi is a blessing. It recreates the quiet after that devastating storm. I sit in silence and pray for the inconceivable. Peace. A planet at peace.

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101 Breaths

Nine eleven.

Those numbers, in that order, will forever mean something more than just two numbers spoken together.

It was early morning. I was driving my youngest daughter to school. We had the car radio on and the program was interrupted. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember thinking that something in the traffic control tower must have gone terribly wrong. Within moments, another plane hit.

I had been in New York two weeks earlier with middle daughter, Joy, helping her move into the dorm at FIT in Manhattan. Now I dialed and redialed her number. Nothing.

By the time I got to work a third plane had careened into the Pentagon. My cousin worked there. My daughter still didn’t answer.

Twelve years later, can it be? It’s over a decade, but still fresh, still a terror of the heart. Both my daughter and my cousin were unharmed. Many others were less fortunate.

This morning I sat in meditation. I couldn’t still the thoughts until one idea caught my attention. It said, “Take 101 breaths to cleanse the heart.” I gulped a lungful of air and expelled it slowly, tightening the stomach muscles until the last wisp of it left my nostrils. Then slowly, methodically, I counted each deep inhale and elongated exhale, one hundred and one times, remembering and letting go.

Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Image

Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Image

Breathwork, or pranayama in yoga circles, brings harmony to the body, mind, and spirit. My body knew what was needed and sent the subtle message to me in the form of a thought.

The breaths completed, I sat in gratitude, the heaviness of those memories lifted. I honored the losses in a way that didn’t consume me.

Once again the body has taught me a valuable lesson. When dealing with too much emotion…101 breaths.

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