Health & Beauty

BREATHE ISSUE 61 – Breathe

In this issue: Reflections in nature – Poetry, please – Hidden depths – Freedom of the trail – Out of this world – The power of resentment – Value judgments – Shine bright – Knowing me, knowing you – Storyville

Likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses – everyone has them. They often feel innate and immutable. ‘I’m just no good in the water!’ might be the answer to a friend’s invitation to go wild swimming or ‘I’d rather put my head in a bucket of iced water than listen to improvised rubbish!’ to a suggestion of a night out at the local jazz club. The responses are immediate, well-worn and, it seems, factually accurate, as memories of floundering in a swimming pool or reaching for the headache tablets post-improv-session come flooding back. Why risk a repeat performance?

Well, maybe because while the memories are real, people – and tastes – change. Think of the human palate. One day, olives are unimaginably awful, the next (well, maybe a little longer than that), they’re the food of the gods. Preferences and skills are similar. They can, and do, change. But they need to be given the freedom to be tested. Or, in other words, people need to give themselves the freedom to challenge – and, occasionally, adapt – what they think they know about themselves.

It might reveal fresh ways of coping with life’s stresses – once-loathed time in the countryside, for example, could now seem the perfect space for reflection. Baking could have moved on from a frustrating to a flow activity, bringing inner calm and peace. Then again, it might still seem a lot of effort for little reward. Without trying, who knows? Either way, there’s nothing to lose but the possibility of something to be gained.

Likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses – they don’t have to be set in stone. And it can be both illuminating and fun to upturn long-held, self-limiting beliefs. Maybe jazz will hit the right chord, after all.

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