We are aware of life unfolding, but do we flow with it or fight it?

Donna Nolan’s book, Breathing My Own Breath, is beautifully transparent when recounting her experiences about her choices in life and most importantly she shares what she has gained from those experiences and how they have influenced her.

One never wants to give away too much of a book when reviewing it but in the case of Breathing My Own Breath, I can’t help but share a couple of the storylines that are woven into this autobiography because in doing so it allows those readers who need or want to explore how the author navigates these specific life circumstances to reach out for this book.

In her early twenties, as an earnest seeker of truth, Donna came across yoga which seemed to offer some solutions and she put much effort over many years into studying with yoga masters in India, Australia and other countries, becoming a yoga teacher herself. She even thought at times that she was close to finding the answers to those big questions, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I doing here?’ but in the end, the answers never felt true to her. It was an elusive quest, and she could never quite find the deep settlement she was searching for.

I felt as if I was travelling through Donna’s life with her as she got on a plane, once again. The story is written in an open and inclusive way, so you feel a bit like her friend, someone who is keeping up with what Donna is off to next. When she begins to weary from searching, I found myself feeling much the same – which I mention as a demonstration of how a book can reflect your own experience.

At the age of 33 Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer which put a stop to the momentum of her life. Living a healthy lifestyle, she could not, at first, understand why she would get breast cancer. She shares her feelings and reactions very honestly and how she was able to use her encounter with cancer as an opportunity to look at her life and discover more about herself. Donna did not blame herself or others but allowed herself to become vulnerable. She started to listen more deeply to her body and connect with her inner strength and wisdom, realising that she had not been ‘breathing her own breath’ – that she had been living by what she thought she should do, often disguised as something she was quite convinced she wanted to do.

I really liked Donna’s honesty and willingness to be transparent and how she does it with gentle understanding, and without putting herself down. She shows how we can use a difficult situation as a learning, to let go of what no longer works for us and then move forward.

There’s a realness to the way she relates her life – it’s not a ‘happily ever after’ story but a journey of someone who has lived life to the full and embraced the magical moments as well as the unfavourable circumstances as opportunities to evolve.

Donna’s willingness to be open to what happens in life offers space. We can often get fixed in how we see things in life such as black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, especially in situations where we really want to make the ‘right’ decision. Being open within ourselves opens up our field of choices and we discover new options in between the polarities we thought curtailed us.

How and where Donna found that elusive settlement she was searching for, I leave to you to discover in the pages of this warm and easy to read book.

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Breast cancerBreathTruthYoga

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