Today is this rare occasion when I find myself home alone. It’s a scorcher of a day! Still, I decide to sit outside, a stack of books next to me on the table, phone put away, a glass of iced coffee. I pick up the first book, Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. I haven’t read this in a while and given how I’ve been feeling lately, I need the reminder. First chapter … Breathe! You Are Alive and within the first few pages the reminder for Conscious Breathing.
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Breathe In, Breathe Out, Breathe In, Breathe Out!
“Recognize your in-breath as an in-breath and your out-breath as an out-breath. This technique can help you keep your mind on your breath. As you practice, your breath will become peaceful and gentle, and your mind and body will also become peaceful and gentle. This is not a difficult exercise. In just a few minutes you can realize the fruit of meditation.” ~ Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hahn
I begin to practice and soon I become very still. My senses open up to the world around me. I can hear the light breeze, the leaves flattering and a myriad birds chatting away. A motorcycle revving up far away, the sound of a passing car, the indistinct voices of people next door. The sound of my breath and the dog panting next to me. I offer her some water.
There are bees humming, ants hurrying along, a hummingbird visits the salvia.
I feel the heat on my skin, and I become aware of my ever present thoughts, crashing through my mind, violating every speed limit known to man. I become aware of the constant busyness in my mind and my body.
Do I ever stop thinking about what I need to do next? I wonder. It seems there’s an ongoing to-do list clicking away, at all times. My mind is jumping from one thing to the next and its speed is affecting my breathing. My body following suit is in constant motion, up and down, up and down, always something demanding my attention, always something to do.
Breathe In, Breathe Out!
How did it come to this? Have I always been this way? Have I been conditioned, was I born this way, or both?
There’s sadness bubbling up. I stay with it and watch it turn into happiness. I am alive! This day is brimming with life. Everything is breathing with me. I sit, watching everything coming and going, breathing in, breathing out.
Eventually, it gets too hot and I need to get up, drink some water. I decide to write about this moment, mostly for me, because I want to remember. Why is it so easy to forget that what I need the most is time to myself? I need this time when all I do is breathe in, breathe out and watch the world breathe with me.
Today is a good day. I sat with myself and got quiet. Eventually, the house will fill up again, life happens every moment and I hope I can take this feeling with me into tomorrow.
As Thay writes, “Just breathing and smiling can make us very happy, because when we breathe consciously we recover ourselves completely and encounter life in the present moment.”