I woke up this morning and the swirl of the global pandemic rushed into my heart, mind, and body. I felt my shoulders contract. My jaw tightened.
Then I said, “Just Breathe”. Every time my mind wandered, I said, “Thank you, I am going to focus on my breath.”
After a short time, my shoulders relaxed, my neck stopped hurting, and my facial tension faded. What emerged next was a single question.
What’s most important now?
In answer, I heard a strong desire to share with my family, friends, community, and the world a short pathway to peace and hope.
My personal journey with mindfulness and meditation is a brief one. One of my life mantras, and one I suspect many of you will find familiar, has been, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Over the years this has translated into deep satisfaction in doing…and doing more. I clearly remember an experience several years ago. I was in a group where the leaders asked us to close our eyes and focus on our breath.
I did this for about five seconds, mentally rolled my eyes, and said to myself, ”What a waste of time.” I had skipped right over the stretch zone, that uncomfortable place where growth happens, and landed in my terror zone of being asked to take a deliberate pause.
I can tell you, I spent almost no time in my terror zone either. Instead, I immediately shifted to my comfort zone of doing. Rather than listening to what I perceived as ridiculous guidance, I spent my “quiet” time on what I deemed the much more productive pursuit of making lists of things I needed to do while everyone else was following the leader’s instruction.
A couple of years later, I noticed a number of studies and research about mindfulness and meditation. I was curious about this trend, so I attended a Search Inside Yourself session about mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and conflict management.
My lasting take-away is one that will follow me for the rest of my life. Just Breathe. I started an experimental period, allowing myself to take a moment to arrive. These were not long meditations – just 45 to 60 seconds to take that deliberate pause before a meeting or when switching tasks.
I Just Breathe.
Noticing when my shoulders are tight. I Just Breathe.
Leaning into my stretch zone and acknowledging that sometimes Just Breathe is all the doing I really need to do.
Over the last couple of days, I have found myself going more and more to Just Breathe.
The news and uncertainty bombards my world, as it does for all of us. Worry and lack of control distracts and distorts.
Just Breathe has become a pathway to peace. If taking a moment to Just Breathe is in your stretch zone or terror zone, I hope you will read this and try an experiment or two.
Just Breathe for 45 to 60 seconds. Inhale and let the fresh air swirl in your head. Exhale the anxiety and uncertainty.
Enjoy and appreciate the clean sweep that comes with every breath cycle, and ask yourself, “What’s most important now?”
I will close with a line from a song by Jonny Diaz.
“Chaos calls but all you really need, is to just breathe. Just breathe.”