Wednesday, April 9, 2008
We did a breathing exercise in yoga today and the teacher suggested we imagine the deep inhale as breathing in new life, and the exhale as a cleansing, or a shedding of the old skin, as a snake does. In shedding the old skin we are reborn.
I hung on to this image all day. I've never before identified with snakes, (primates being my current obsession) but I like the image of shedding the old skin, of becoming new and fresh again. Snakes do it to allow for growth. I feel poised on the threshold of shedding my old skin, my old self, allowing for personal growth.
I did a little research and discovered that humans actually shed 1.5 million skin cells every hour with a new skin surface regenerating every 28 days (kinda gross when you think about all those skin cells floating around... sort of like the millions of dust mites that live on our mattress... okay, don't get me started.) So, we are shedding too, but this image of flaking skin isn't nearly as powerful as that of that snake, who loses the skin in one entire piece.
Apparently the stresses associated with shedding can be substantial. Sick snakes experience delayed and incomplete sheds. Also, shedding is a slow process, and I imagine there must be some discomfort. So it is with humans embarking on a rebirth. First we have to shed the old skin. Unhealthy humans, people who are emotionally, spiritually or physically ill will struggle more with the shedding. The changing of old routines, adjusting to losses, these are uncomfortable, but by maintaining our health and embracing new opportunities we can aid the shedding process that leads to our own rebirth.
Maybe I can identify with the snake afterall.