Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Three Breaths

For me to let divine sensation have its way, I need a daily practice that fosters peace of mind. While I take responsibility for the peace I bring to the moment, I don't always feel very peaceful. I restore calm by practicing the most basic centering exercise there is: conscious breathing. I slow down and breathe in a way that rolls past the committee's busy voices and aerates the quiet corners of the mind. I take long, round breaths that expand my belly. And I often follow the simple teaching of Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh: I take one breath to let go, one breath to be here and one breath to ask now what?

Thing about breathing is we can do it in public and nobody thinks we're weird. Breathing doesn't require accessories, special training, or equipment. Just breathing. We're doing it anyway; we might as well do it in a way that brings us closer to peace of mind.

I step out on the balcony of my house. I like to go outside, whatever the weather. The morning waits, or the afternoon, or the evening. I am standing among tree limbs with my yard and garden below. I take a few deep breaths. In our bodies, oxygen feeds the heart and brain first. To pause and breathe deeply literally sends more energy to the parts of our bodies we most need to access for peace of mind. Inhalation leads to inspiration.

One breath to let go.

Let go of the list making, the squabbling, the disorientation of too many selves, the confusion of priorities, the constrictions of the heart. Let go of my fears, the niggling of inadequacy, anger at this or that interaction, the rush that comes from taking things personally. Send in the oxygen, instead of the adrenaline.

One breath to be here.

Be here in the moment and notice what is: the sensual reality of wherever I am standing. Peace is all around me; my job is to bring my mind to peace. To be here is to step out of the centre of the world, and to simply join in. What do I see, hear, taste, touch, smell - even through a plate glass window in a hotel lobby -- how am I, here in the world?

One breath to ask now what?

Now what is trying to happen in my life? Now what do I want this period of my life to mean? Now what might spirit say, if I say nothing and just for a moment...listen.

I breathe. I whisper my request, "Please help me maintain my peace of mind." The words echo in my skull. At its best, this instance, my body feels like a hollow tube, flowing with gentle energy. My mind is receptive. I breathe, wait a few seconds, enjoy the stillness I am creating within myself.

The Seven Whispers: A Spiritual Practice For Times Like These, Christina Baldwin

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