The beauty of coming home to the breath is that you never have far to go. The breath is always with you, and once you learn to work with it, it can be a source of refuge from the ups and downs of life.
A long deep breath signals the nervous system to calm down, that everything is ok. We all know that if we're anxious or upset, having someone tell us to calm down is likely to be of no benefit. Emotions can feel overwhelming, and the chatter of the mind deafening, leaving us feeling powerless and at their mercy. But a few minutes of long deep breathing targets the body directly, bypassing the chatter in your mind, and shifting focus away from emotional overwhelm.
The trick is to stay with the breath, and when the mind pulls you away again and again, come back again and again. Watch out for thoughts such as 'this isn't working', or 'this is too intense', and return to the breath, it will guide you to safety if you can remain patient and persistent.
As with any practice, making it a routine part of your life is key. See if you can commit to taking a few minutes out to belly breathe each day this week, and connect with the sense of safety and peace within.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
"We have 60,000 thoughts a day, and 98% of them we had yesterday" - Tara Brach
Take a moment to think about this, is this true of your experience? I know it is of mine.
Often I find myself watching re-runs in my mind ranging from the mundane and necessary "What will I have for dinner today?" to the detrimental "Remember that time I said (insert stupid comment) to (insert person's name)? What an idiot I looked!".
What would happen if we opened up to this moment instead of watching re-runs in our minds?
Sure, there's comfort in watching a re-run, you know what will happen, you know how the story ends, there are no surprises, and there is a time and a place for that. But what are we missing out on by doing this? What new possibilities would open up if we were to be present and aware in this moment? What new things could we learn about ourselves and our relationships? Our work and our lives? What new story would we get to tell?
This week, set an intention to come back to your senses a few times a day and notice what's actually happening in the here and now. See if you can be curious about your inner and outer world, you never know what you might discover. :)
“Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Thought creates feeling, and feeling creates action.
Imagine this scenario: I wake up in the morning and immediately think of all I have to do today, it's a long list, and the thought comes "How will I ever get all this done?", quickly followed by "X always looks so in control, and she's busier than me, why am I such a failure, when will I ever get it together?" In response to this thought, my heart sinks, my shoulders slump, my head feels heavy. I feel tired already, so I turn over and go for a snooze. When I wake, it's late and I think "sure half the day is gone, what's the point??".
This is the power of thought.
Now imagine an alternate scenario: I wake up in the morning and immediately think of all I have to do today, it's a long list, and the thought comes "How will I ever get all this done?" --I immediately step in and ask myself "Where will this thinking take me?". I decide instead to remind myself that I am a person who can get things done, that even if it all isn't done by evening, that doesn't make me a bad person, and, that I am worth the effort to do the work of choosing to think and act differently. (It does take effort, especially in the beginning when all evidence points to the futility of even trying, but persist, and it will get easier.
Are you worth it?
"Your thoughts are a catalyst for self-perpetuating cycles. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave. So if you think you’re a failure, you’ll feel like a failure. Then, you’ll act like a failure, which reinforces your belief that you must be a failure." - Amy Morin
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing proven tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
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