“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
As I near my last month of Yoga teacher training, I've been contemplating all I've learned along the way this year. So, so much ... more than I could possibly write in this post. But a few things that come to mind are "slow down," "let go," "be present," "love, love ... and love some more," "listen," and perhaps most important ... "breathe."
Slow down. What does that really mean? Well, think about it. Every morning you wake up and you have your routine, maybe you're an early riser so you can take time in the morning to chill out before heading to work. Maybe you're like me, a, ahem, late riser, to say the least ;-) who ends up rushing around as a result. But in general, we as a society are constantly on the go, on the run, from this to that, back to this again. We are constantly so focused on point A and then point B, we aren't even noticing all the "life" going on between the two. But in reality, that IS our life, one precious moment at a time. But our minds are so constantly focused on the future moment ... or busy daydreaming or fixating on the past moment, the present moment becomes a blur. You ever wonder why people say life passes by in a blink, how one day you wake up 80? It's because we don't slow down and stay present ... it's because we put ourselves ON the fast track. So, step by step, get off that track ... enjoy the details of every moment as they happen, focus on what's happening right here and now ... the rest will follow, it always does.
Let go. I've talked about this in depth, so I don't want to repeat myself, but I've learned to let go of the things I cannot control ... to drop all the fluff, all the extra baggage. Why do we carry so much on our minds and hearts ALL the time, every day? Most, if not all of it, we have no control over whatsoever. As my friend Katie's dad says, worrying is a useless emotion. Sure, we all do it from time to time, but think about all the energy, our life force, we spend on worrying about things we have no power over. Instead, that energy can go into productive, positive, loving things. So, let's do ourselves a favor and let go ... fall in and relax. Life is not meant to be linear.
Being present ... well, that I've covered plenty. And loving ... well we all know the world can use much more of it. But when I say love, I mean, truly love. Loving with all of our hearts ... and when we're scared, loving even more. That's something I've learned the hard way. Oh, how many walls I put up, and why? Do they ever REALLY protect me from pain? No. But they hinder me from love and life. So yeah, it's been tough breaking them down over the months, but what I've discovered beneath them is pretty damn beautiful ... and so much more worth loving than a wall.
Listen. This one I may end up writing more in depth on later. But let me ask you this, the next conversation you have with someone, observe your responses ... observe theirs. Do you notice if you cut them off a lot? Do you notice if they do? Do you actually "listen" to what they're saying or are you more focused on lining up your response, on "your turn." Is it a rat race between the two of you on who gets the next word in? Do you even pause at all to take in what is being said, to breathe? Do you turn it around to be about you?
This was a big eye opener for me and how I communicate and how I can communicate better. It wasn't easy to accept either, but all patterns can be changed once we become aware of them. You may find it equally eye opening for you next time you monitor yourself.
And lastly, breathe. I've discovered the true magic of the breath. Just focusing on this simple, natural action our bodies produce can change lives. It truly can.
It's the root of everything.
Life, energy, action, communication, expression, meditation, relaxation, adrenaline, all of it ... it starts with breath. Just listening to your own breath can bring you back to center. Deep breathing also sends signals to the brain to relax. If we could just listen to our breath more often, in everything we do, imagine how much more relaxed people would be in general.
One thing I've noticed a lot more in my recent months is how angry people are. There are a lot of angry, hostile, agitated, irritated, alarmist, everything's an emergency, road raging, short tempered people out there. Don't get me wrong, I've been a member of that club myself and still have my "reactive" moments versus "responsive" moments. But in general, I'm catching myself more and more when I feel that fire lighting, either by someone's words or someone cutting me off in traffic or work stress, etc. Instead of reacting, I'm breathing. And then suddenly, I realize, none of these things most of us get so upset about truly matter. I mean, some of them don't even matter literally seconds after they occur. So why are so many people so angry all the time?
Well, I can't answer that question without writing a novel, which I already am nearing in this post ... but I will reiterate my earlier statement — if only we could find breath more often.
Perhaps we would all slow down a bit, let go a bit more easily ... perhaps we would all be more present, more loving ... maybe we would actually be better listeners if we paused to breathe a moment before responding — maybe we would FINALLY, truly find our breath.
Imagine our world then.