Beauty in Breathing

Sunday is a great opportunity to sit for longer, meditating. There’s less going on, people are occupied with their own hobbies and pursuits. I’ve been doing a breathing practise centred on repeating the same few phrases on rotation. What I love about this, is the expansiveness it produces mentally and at the same time, the dissolution of boundaries between myself and others emotionally.

I’ve had more enthusiasm for expressing love, than it seems common to do so, since I was little. With a meditation centred on breathing, gratitude for this simple action that enables life, eclipses all that. It levels anything that anxiety or mental criticism would rally to hurl at me. Such a gentle, simple practise has the weight of a warrior behind it; bulldozing any concerns that may have lingered.

Mundane as it may sound, the repetition of simple phrases – particularly aloud – even if in a soft whisper, has tremendous impact. This filters through to daily life as well. The idle chatter of faint criticism that can plague our movements, throughout a day, vanish. Inner monologue often falls away entirely for prolonged periods. I came to meditation restless, hypertense; a socially anxious teen that found the sensory overload of society terrifying. In nature I felt my feet supported by the Earth, around people I felt as if I was constantly trying to find my footing on deep water.

Having studied language and how the brain ignores words like, “not”, practises that involve repeating phrases like, “I am not the mind or the body” feel flat. I’ve found by experience in raising children that stating a request for the behaviour I want, rather than don’t want, to be more effective. In journalling too, writing about how I prefer to react and behave is more practical and applicable in the world, than talking about what I do not want to do or be.

Such simple phrases can expand into so many layers of meaning. “I am peace”, “I am joy” “I am alive”, “I am present” all read so obvious as to lack depth. Several minutes in, they begin to separate, layers of paper becoming gossamer tissue; revealing glimpses of further meaning, a deeper understanding. The inclusive nature of such phrases, finds me reacting more calmly in situations. The bounty of a meditation practise is not instant, though its reward is abundant when it reveals itself.

Hours can be lost digging in plants or walking through woods. All the practises that appear the most obvious, for me have been the most profound. The recent habit of flowing from one practise to another at the same point in my day, rather than doing them separately, has led to doing them at almost the exact same time; without even having looked at the clock.

Although we do respond quickly to habit, I believe the ability to maintain it is easier than we have been sold. I believe we’ve been encouraged to cram too many things into the day. Just as the simplest practises can be the most effective, approaching the days and weeks with the intention to focus on a limited amount, is also to our benefit. As the breathing meditation amplifies a sense of expansiveness, my focus sharpens on fewer things. Far from be frustrated by this limitation, I embrace it.

I am not all the things, I have not time to do all the things, I cannot be everything to everyone. I can only be me. I can only be now. As I breathe in and out awareness dissolves into acceptance. The vast sense of what it is to be one of many, experiencing now, evokes a peace that feels like the place where we all begin. The more I meditate, the more this sense of being goes with me, into my interactions and days. It matters less how we are alike or different, when we last saw one another, how we are in common or at odds. We can only be us, we can only be now… much of the rest matters less. We are all the same beauty, breathing in and out.


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