“There is no question that the real mindfulness teacher, and the real meditation practice, is life itself.
Every moment is an opportunity to realign ourselves with the actuality of what is unfolding, however challenging or mundane, and thereby choose not lose ourselves in our interpretations and stories about what is going on. This is easier than you may think. It is also hugely liberating each time we make even a momentary gesture in that direction. And those moments, those conscious realigning gestures can add up to a different life, a more mindful and emotionally balanced life. Not only that: they can influence your future in ways that may be not only beneficial to you, but transformative. Because if you take care of this moment, now, with kindness and awareness, the next moment will be different because of your having taken care of this one, because of your gesture of sanity, trust, and balance.
It helps if we have allies along the way to remind us of this option when we most feel lost and overwhelmed and forget that we can choose to ground ourselves in the present moment and open to a larger, less deluded and less reactive perspective. There are many, many allies available to us, but one of the most reliable and easily called upon is our own breathing. After all, you can’t leave home without it. The invitation here is to befriend this inbreath — and now this outbreath, in any moment when we may feel lost or overwhelmed or carried away by fear about the future, or dissatisfaction with what we are experiencing. Any moment is a good moment to practice, and best to not wait until the full catastrophe is ripping and roaring. How about befriending the breath in those moments when things are not at their worst? How about this moment? All it takes is bringing your awareness to the sensations in the body that are most vividly associated with this inbreath and this outbreath, either at the belly, or at the nostrils, or anywhere else in your body where you can feel your breath. Even one or two breaths, attended to wholeheartedly in this way, can be grounding and calming, and restore a more balanced perspective.
Try it when you are putting your kids to bed, or when you are upset about something that happened, or that you fear might happen. Or even when you are just walking down the street, or sitting in a meeting. See what happens when you trust your breath and give yourself over to feel it, and “riding the waves” of each inbreath and each outbreath unfolding. You may find that you have discovered a new friend, one you can count on when the proverbial stuff is hitting the proverbial fan, especially if you nurture and develop the connection in less stressful moments. And amazingly enough, that friend turns out to be you, in the guise of the breath, and of awareness itself. Why not? What do you have to lose? It doesn’t even take any time, just remembering.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, March 2009
Image courtesy of Beverly & Pack