Birthing a Bird
Updated: Oct 9
What happens when the universe speaks to you? You either go through life as a victim of circumstance, oblivious to the gifts presented to you, only to stumble across a bigger challenge further down the road...
Or you listen.
In between the loss, pain and fear you wait, pause, breathe and carefully pick through the rubble in order to find the gem glowing from beneath the ashes. Sometimes the gem shines brightly but other times it's covered in dust and needs to be carefully wiped clean. You are required to be brave and have FAITH that whatever you've been through has a greater reason or lesson or higher purpose.
This was how I birthed a bird, or rather how a bird birthed a real gem. I call it my Covid gift, and this is my story;
On 23 July 2021, my family contracted the dreaded Delta variant. My wonderfully thorough GP ran through his 'Covid protocol' and insisted we stick to a twice daily programme of monitoring blood pressure, temperature and oxygen levels. We signed up to Hatzolla's Wellness Covid programme, they delivered our wellness pack, made sure we were ok and then left us to our own devices. We closed our doors and retreated into the four walls of our home, ready to face the invisible 'enemy' that had waged war on all fronts.
It started with headaches and temperatures, aching bones and sweats. I was expecting these symptoms but I was not prepared for what happened next - I began to feel anxious. It started off as a mild niggling sensation which upgraded to a pounding in my chest, eventually spiralling into a clawing feeling of panic. I began to dread the setting of the sun as this was when the feelings of agitation would bubble up into an internal cauldron of fear and angst. It's as if the 'enemy' had tapped into my nervous system and initiated guerilla warfare on my soul! My husband's health began to deteriorate and with the stress and worry for his wellbeing as well as the twice daily monitoring of my family's temperature/blood pressure/oxygen levels, the anxiety grew.
I needed to do something to calm myself but unfortunately my agitation meant I was unable to sit still long enough to meditate. The game changer was when I turned to the next best thing - slow breathing. When you consciously slow your inhale and exhale to around 4-6 breaths per minute, you are able to activate the relaxation response. So, as soon as I started to feel anxious I would very consciously relax my shoulders, inhale through my nose to the count of five, hold for three and then slowly extend my exhale to the count of seven. I would repeat this over and over until both my mind and body returned to normal. I'm not sure how many panic attacks were prevented by the slow breathing, I just know that is was my silent saviour throughout the Covid ordeal.
Thank G-d we all recovered physically. Our quarantine period finally came to an end. We opened our doors and joined the world once again. I had to shield my eyes from the bright sun for a while because I still felt bruised from my battle with the 'enemy' but in time I began to feel like myself. I started working again and I noticed there was a growing theme in a lot of my interactions with my clients. They seemed to be struggling with unprecedented levels of anxiety and overwhelm. The more I worked with self inquiry and slow breathing the more I became convinced that a mindfulness breathing tool could be a great support for overall mind wellness. Well, it's as if the Universe thought so too because all the right people started showing up at the perfect time to help me along the way.
The journey of the breathing tool's creation was an extraordinary one and it was all driven by a beautiful bird with a deep message.
I have had an interesting relationship with the Kingfisher and it seems to show up at odd times in my life, leaving me messages along the way. It first started 7 years ago when I was preparing a presentation about 'Getting Unstuck'. My talk was about thoughts creating reality and I was trying to find creative ways of explaining this concept. I didn't have to look far because a Kingfisher appeared out of nowhere to show me how...
One morning I was at gym and a Giant Kingfisher flew into the glass window. I was relieved when I saw him shake himself off and return, unharmed, to his mate in the Willow tree. Shortly after that there was another loud BANG! It had flown into the window again! I was horrified. Not only did this happen a few more times, it happened everyday over the next few weeks. What was going on? I was so perplexed by this strange behaviour that I decided to walk outside and see for myself. The curious case of the headbutting Kingfisher was solved in an instant. I noticed that because it was winter, the sun was sitting low in the sky and creating a reflection in the glass. The Kingfisher would look up, see another male Kingfisher in his territory and attack it. I knew that as soon as the sun shifted slightly his reflection would disappear and so would the threat. I laughed to myself when I realised I could use this as an example in my presentation because everything we experience is a projection of our own minds - what we see in others, the problems we have with them is actually a reflection of what is inside of us. There it was - the Kingfisher was only fighting his own reflection! I took a picture of him and said a silent 'thank you' for showing up and helping me out.
It's one thing coming up with an idea of making something special like a breathing tool, but it's a whole different challenge putting it all together. One of the stumbling blocks was the creative direction we would be going in. Days and weeks passed with different names and designs being thrown around but there was nothing exciting. A friend suggested I stop listening to everyone and spend time on my own and connect with my inspiration.
Who was I to argue...
That Saturday morning I was sitting alone in my lounge when all of a sudden a bird flew straight past me. It entered through the window behind me and flew out the glass door in front of me. I remember two things catching my attention. Firstly, I noticed a flash of turquoise and secondly I was amazed that the bird didn't bump into a single thing as it flew through my house. It settled on a branch that was hanging over my swimming pool and just sat there, waiting for me to have a good look it.
Was it? Could it be?
I grabbed my binoculars so I could have a closer look. There it was, a magnificent Woodland Kingfisher in all it's glory! I was absolutely flabbergasted! How did a Kingfisher just fly through my house? Was this the universe telling me that my breathing tool should be called Kingfisher? I switched on my computer and began googling. I poured through translations of Kingfisher into other languages until Halcyon caught my eye. It is the Greek word for Kingfisher - 'alkyon'. It also means calm, peaceful and tranquil.
Calm, peaceful and tranquil? I couldn't believe what I was reading. These are the exact qualities of the breathing tool! I carried on reading: "In ancient myths, the halcyon (Kingfisher) was said to calm the turbulent wind and rough seas in order to nest."
I read these words over and over again. It brought back my feelings of stress and overwhelm during Covid and reminded me how it was the slow breathing that calmed my raging internal storm.
There it was, on my computer screen. The name of the breathing tool and the creative direction we would take. I went back to my phenomenal jeweler, Brendon Cloete and explained that the Universe had spoken and we had to start from scratch. Brendon came up with the most exquisite designs for our breathing tool and in September we birthed a bird.
The beautiful, mythical Kingfisher from ancient days is now being used to bring calm, peace and presence to the world.
I have come to see that Covid was not the 'enemy' after all. It was my teacher. It showed me that I can't run away from fear and pain. That I need to let go of control, trust in the process and have faith that everything that is happening is happening for me. It is happening for my greater refinement. When the Universe speaks I listen extremely carefully and wait for the gem to glow.
[If you live in Johannesburg, South Africa you will know that Hatzolla is a Jewish founded and run medical service that provides emergency assistance to the community. It is a non profit organisation, staffed by volunteers. I am eternally grateful to them for carrying us through the battle of the Delta.]
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