First steps Posted on 10 Jun 22:37 , 0 comments

Take A Breath! My youngest daughter thought that was my entire first post. Funny, but it may be just that simple. One of my favorite t-shirts says, "just breathe..."

At times during the day, I notice my inner chatter. What do I have to do? Did I remember to bring everything I need from the office? What was I thinking when I did (fill in the blank)? I should have done (fill in the blank)! What might they think of what I just said? What if I don't get everything done in time? What can I fix for dinner when I get home? Why did she look at me like that? What if I lose this file again? Etc. Etc. That is only a small sampling of the unhelpful noise that fills my head and keeps me from being present

Much has been written about being mindful – being present more fully. The benefits of being more present in life are easy to understand. When I allow my mind to chatter away, I am squandering energy. Valuable life energy! I sap my own vital life force, draining it away on thoughts of the past and the future, when all that is ever mine is to be found in the present time. No exception. If I need to contemplate something, or craft a plan of action I do it in present time. When I want to have a conversation with someone, I can only do it in present time. When there is action to be taken – present time!  Even if I am simply sitting and watching clouds, or musing and dreaming, being fully in present time deepens the experience. 

The brain does not mind running on its hamster wheel of obsessive thought, or monkey minding from one thought to the next. Using energy is what the brain does. Whether that energy goes to run a hamster wheel or a water wheel of inspired thought and action is of no concern to the brain. Noticing my breath, and then relaxing into a deeper focus of the rise and fall of it, is one of my tried and true tools for bringing myself into the present moment. This allows me more freedom to choose my thoughts consciously and frees me from draining my energy needlessly.

The practice is simple. Perhaps you would like to begin by noticing your exhalation. Sigh out or blow out for several breaths, sending tension out of your body and letting go of your current train of thought. Then notice your inhalation. Breathe in and appreciate the life flowing into your body. Take it in as if it were a delicious scent or a precious gift. Observe the rise and fall of the breath. Notice how it feels. Does the body welcome the breath in fully and release the breath easily? Is the pacing regular? Is the tempo comfortable? Allow your mind to be curious and interested, as if this is the first time you have noticed this breath (because, with each breath, it IS the first time – the only time for THIS breath).

As you breathe in, draw into yourself whatever quality you would like to embody in this moment. Perhaps you desire calm, joy, health, or strength. Claim it. Breathe it into the cells of your body just as you breathe oxygen into your blood. As you exhale, imagine letting anything that you don’t need flow out with your breath. Out with the old and in with the new. If you don’t feel like there is anything else to clear out, breathe in whatever you choose to pull into your experience and as you breathe out let it flow from you out into the world. As within so without.

With regular practice, a single breath can become a re-adjustment. I breathe in beauty, kindness, and spaciousness. As I breathe out and open my eyes, I discover that my life, my world, looks a bit more beautiful, more kind, more spacious.

Just breathe.