There are at least four songs by female pop singers with the title Breathe. Yoga studios across the country bear the name. An entire network for women is devoted to Oxygen and Bliss Spa has created a signature oxygen treatment. Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus have "Breathe" tattoos. Now Drew Barrymore is the latest to imprint the reminder on her body. Is breathing something we're chronically forgetting to do? If so, I'd like to recommend a portable oxygen tank.
Not that kind of breathing silly! In the world of wellness, breathing is a luxury. You pay $20 bucks to have someone tell you to just focus on your breathing. (Also to remind you to thank yourself for showing up.) The age old practice of meditation gets choked in translation to take the form of a congratulatory reminder that you're already doing something. That thing being the bare minimum to stay alive. You're breathing. Isn't that great?
Shouldn't our self-expectations be a little higher? We are owning the job market, we're bearing children in our 40's and 50's. Back up. We're bearing children. I'm pretty sure the breathing thing under control by comparison.
In Lamaze, breathing techniques are supposed to refocus your attention from the unbearable pain of a human detaching from your organs. So what are Drew or Miley doing that is so painful it requires a ink-stained Lamaze coach at the ready?
The self-help industry has made a killing on the idea of "women who do too much." The common complaint being: "I don't take enough time for myself." And that's true of a lot of women who juggle work, family and relationships. We're nurturers and all that, but we're also highly capable creatures. Multi-tasking is in our DNA. There has never been a time when women haven't been expected to be responsible for keeping alive multiple humans at a time. It's what we do. We also breathe if we're lucky.
The implication is that we're dysfunctional. And like the word "relax" the more you're instructed to do it, the less you're able to. It fosters anxiety and coddles the panic. If anything, I'd rather it be one less thing to think about it. If I'm not aware of it, my body is working fine. The things we've got down, shouldn't be dwelled on. Things like confidence, organization, anger-management wouldn't be bad reminders. Personally, I could use the tattoo "shower". But breathe? I can do that in my sleep.
Not so for Taylor Swift song, who's song Breathe speaks directly to a guy who needs to give her CPR every minute. "I can't breathe with out you," she sings. That right there may be why he left. Talk about pressure. So no wonder we're given applause when we do it on our own. We've really turned a corner with our expectations of what makes an independent woman.
Then there's Michelle Branch (who performed her song Breathe at the Oxygen festival, above. ha). "When life's like an hourglass stuck to a table, just breathe," she advises. I would suggest leaving the Salvador Dali museum, drinking lots of water and never ever letting someone talk you into dropping acid at that high-art funhouse again.
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