Jun 22

Back to the body, back to the breath

Teachers always say to get into the habit of practicing mindfulness when your life is relatively peaceful. This will help you when things get challenging—as they do and will for everyone at some point in their lives.

I speak on, write about, and practice mindfulness.  However, the latter, the practicing part, can be the hardest part.

Actually, it’s not that it’s hard, it’s just a practice—and that means doing it on a regular basis.

Recently I’ve been quite anxious around moving from one apartment to another. At first, it was hard to deal with the anxiety I felt, as it was very strong. Luckily, I have maintained a meditation practice for many years. However, I don’t always remember to practice mindfulness throughout the day. I, like many others, get caught up in the day to day stresses of life and become forgetful.

However, with this strong anxiety, I turned toward the teachings. The more present I stayed with whatever I was feeling, slowing my breathing and cultivating present moment awareness, the more in control I felt.

Now, my anxiety has abated—but I continue to come back to the awareness of my body and my breath, all through the day and night.

The more we forget to practice mindfulness, the more we are susceptible to the rising of negative emotions. When we are truly present, in mind and body, when we remember to notice our breath and our moment to moment feelings, the more we can learn to consciously relax so the anxiety doesn’t spiral out of control.

What is mindful breathing?  It is simply paying attention to our own breathing: not trying to control it, just becoming aware of the breath by focusing on either the place under the nostrils where the air goes in and out, on the chest, or on the belly as it rises and falls.

You can practice mindful breathing anywhere, anytime, for as long or as short a period of time as you like.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”  –Amit Ray