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40k for 40 Days

January 27:
Day 11

40k for 40 days

January 27: Day 11

Day 11 - Peace is a Living, Breathing Thing

Peace for me is not a document, a piece of paper, or parchment, it's something that is lived, felt, and breathed. Inner, and outer, world Peace has a lot in common with humanity, it would seem, but what jumps out for me, as I move towards greater understanding and connection to peace, I labor for breath, the harder and more intensely I move, so too does peace. For the most part, bar the usual exceptions to the rule (indigenous communities who've fought to remain indigenous), we are breathing poorly, too much, too shallow, too quickly, and through the wrong channels. Peace, like us humans, who are interconnected and interdependent through our collective breathing, needs to breathe, more efficiently, slowly, deeply, and through the correct channels if it is to remain alive. By breathing too quickly, too shallowly, through our chest, and more often through our mouths, we create unnecessary stress, burnout, fatigue, and just all-around poor energy efficiency, and poor sleep, with little room for recovery and ultimately poor longevity. 

Peace needs to breathe better as we humans who rely on it for life itself, do too.

For these past 440 Ks, I've been attempting to breathe, for the most part through my belly and diaphragm, at a slower rate or less ventilation than usual, even though this appears to be counterintuitive when moving, through my nose, more than 90% of the time with a particular focus on a longer exhale than inhale and it is making a remarkable difference to both my ability to move more efficiently and think more clearly in a composed manner.

I don't feel like I am in flight, flight, or freeze mode, for most of the time on and off the bike these past two weeks, like I have often been in the past when breathing incorrectly and stressed in body and mind as a result. I am in feed, breathe, rest, and digest mode while moving and making great headway. In other words, without trying to sound too sciency, I am tapping into my parasympathetic nervous system and mostly avoiding the sympathetic. If I was mostly in sympathetic mode (or pity mode, as I like to call it), I would no doubt have ceased this challenge and movement by now, but because I am using my parasympathetic mode (empathic mode, as I call it) most of the time, I feel well able to continue and recover better on the bike and off the bike.

Peace needs less pity, sympathy, and fight or flight. Peace needs empathy, clear heads, calm nerves, and the ability to recover when knocked off course or out of its resilience (Daingean in Irish), and so peace, just like all of us humans, needs instructions, practice, and relearning to breathe better in order to be better and serve all, not just a few, for sound bites, photo shoots, and Nobel Prizes. 


Shane O'Connor



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