"So a fish moves through the water and the water moves through the gill and the gill somehow, it extracts the oxygen because we know water is hydrogen and oxygen, and discharges the hydrogen. It lets it stream behind it. So this is an amazing teacher because, this is also why fish need to keep moving through water or they will die. They have to have the water go through their gills in order to breathe. So as we talk about this, I’m not talking about motion or stillness, the way we normally do. The fish are these amazing teachers. They are examples of the endless search that has no destination. They are not moving through the water because they are going somewhere. They don’t have any agendas or appointments—not that we know of! But they need to keep engaging in their element or they will die.
So the metaphor, the teaching metaphor here that is just amazing, is that for us, the heart is our gill. And we need to move through the water of experience every day, or inwardly, we will die. And we need to somehow, through first-hand experience, learn how to extract what is essential and discharge the rest. Because when we don’t discharge the rest, when we cling and hold onto what is not essential, it starts to clog up the gill of the heart. And we can no longer breathe from what is essential...
So the way that we extract what is essential is by staying present and not hiding, by trusting over being skeptical...By not rehearsing our way through life, by remembering the quiet courage amid each moment, not only as if it never happened before, because it has never happened before...
I think that the chief way to extract what is essential is having the quiet courage to meet whatever comes our way with an open heart. And if we don’t, which is very understandable because fear and pain make us temporarily shut down—that’s like a natural, almost biological reflex. But the commitment to open our hearts once they’ve been closed, to open our minds once they’ve shut down, to read— just like our eyes blink how many times a day—so when the heart blinks, we have to commit to opening it again." - Poet and Philosopher Mark Nepo, in conversation with Tami Simon for Sounds True
Dana Wyss Healing Arts
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.