Breath in. Pause. Breath out. Pause. Breath in. Pause. Breath out. Pause. Following the breath rather than directing it, my tension lessens, my breath slows and deepens. I am more conscious of where I am, the seat beneath me, sounds around me. Until a distraction moves me away, a thought, a sound, a feeling, and I am back into the chatter of the mind.
Recently I had a discussion with someone about breathing. We both understood intellectually as well as from experience, how setting a short period of time for meditation practice as a practice based upon attending to one’s breath, eases tensions and raises clarity in our every day lives. Yet retaining or re-establishing it as a regular life practice takes effort, and we are easily taken away from it with a variety of good and not-so-good reasons, all excuses as well.
I understand meditation as a practice, an established time set apart from life, to bring me back to life. As awareness of breath is developed with the practice, I become more conscious of it at different points during the day. A few moments allows my shoulders to drop the tension as my breath settles to a healthier pace and I am more aware of just where I am in the moment.
Don’t misunderstand this. I also greatly value getting full engrossed in projects, writing, reading, relating with others and such. Yet just as the exhale follows the inhale, being fully present between focusing elsewhere balances out my experiences. And, as the silence between breaths allows a restful, sometimes non-existence that is profoundly grounding, the pause between attention to others helps me regain perspective in what is happening.
Finally, we also discussed how to find reminders during our busy days, to attend to the breath. Since we both spend much time in front of computers, he decided to find a brief recording of chimes or bells, and set it to come on softly in the background, possibly on a random basis.
So what about you? Do you attend to your breath sometimes? Do you have useful practices that help you let go of the chatter of the mind, and remind you that life is here and now?