“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh
Several years ago, when I was a smoker (I know….gross!), I used to believe that smoking relaxed me; never mind the fact that nicotine is a stimulant. When I gained my freedom from that terrible addiction several years ago, I found that it was the act of conscious breathing that one engages in while smoking that leads the smoker to believe it’s relaxing.
Conscious breathing, as in meditation, right? Yeah.. kinda. But I don’t have to be on the pillow in meditation to consciously breathe. Once I started to pay attention, I was surprised at how often I found myself holding my breath or breathing in a shallow manner. What usually caught my attention to this was that I would suddenly become anxious. I always thought anxiety brought about the shallow breathing but shallow breathing also brings about anxiety.
I once believed that breathing was automated and I didn’t have to think about it. When I first began meditating many, many years ago, I learned that I didn’t know how to breathe at all and had to be re-taught. It was hard in the beginning as the more I focussed on my breathing, the more I would hyperventilate. Man, those early days were rough!
But over time, it became easier to control my breathing and feel the benefits of a regular meditation practice. I highly recommend beginners join a meditation class or download some good guided meditations as I found it much easier to begin this way.
Now, whenever I feel uneasy, I check that I’m not holding my breath. One deep, cleansing breath invariably removes, or at least reduces the anxiety. My breathing tells the tale of my inner world. It lets me know when I’m off balance, stressed, insecure or not in alignment with Source Energy. It’s a great barometer that never fails to tell the truth.
So, Number 2 on my list of Divine Daily Practices is: BREATHE.