Picture this – You are sitting by the window, the wind is playing with your hair and you are enjoying the beautiful scenery outside. Maybe it’s a pretty flower. Maybe a little bird chirping around and flapping its wings. Maybe it’s the glorious sunset.
You are enjoying the moment. You feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Life seems good.
And then maybe, you spot your co-worker. You are instantly reminded of the nasty comment she passed last Friday. You mutter a few curses under your breath though you desperately want to forget the incident.
Or maybe you spot a dog on the road. It looks exactly like your neighbor’s dog. You remember your neighbor’s sweet smile. Perhaps you should ask her out…but what if she rejects you? You start counting your shortcomings. You battle with yourself, trying to determine whether you are even worth anything. Your thoughts are now dancing to the beats of a rap song. Whirling around like a whirlpool gone wild.
You scream from the inside. You pick up your phone hoping to distract yourself (you know this is a horrible idea, but YOLO right?), scroll through endless pictures of perfection on Instagram or try to catch up on the news that is solely determined to prove to you that WW3 is closer than the objects whose images appear in your car’s rearview mirror. Now you feel worse. And now you have an existential crisis. Congrats!
Does this feel familiar?
How many perfectly wonderful days have been ruined by our mind’s chatter? How many times have you made decisions only to regret them a few hours later? How many times have you found yourself lingering in the corridors of the past, tasting the rotting fruits of unhealthy emotions?
If you asked me these questions, I would scream at the top of my voice.
So many freaking times!!!
I am not writing this post to rant about the endless blabbering of my mind. Far from it. This post is aimed at providing you with a clear cut solution that has the potential to change your life around. No, I am not exaggerating. If you practice these principles daily, you might just end up living in the paradise of peace all the time.
OK, maybe not all the time. But at least most of the time.
This timeless wisdom was passed on to me during a virtual youth meeting on the clarity of the mind. I would like to share these principles with you today. Once you are done reading and emulating them in your life, please do me a favor. Share it further. After all, the good things in life (laughter, love, and wisdom) are meant to be shared.
So what is this miracle solution? – Breathing Meditation
It is the art of centering oneself. Amidst our mental clutter and chaos, we drop everything that’s burdening us and pause. All it takes is five seconds. It can be done anywhere and anytime. You stop all that you are doing and gently take a deep breath, bringing yourself back to the present moment.
Before going on stage to deliver a speech, in the midst of a demanding situation or after a particularly disturbing conversation; you choose to simply let go of everything that’s pulling the reins of your mind and BREATHE.
You are probably rolling your eyes right now. “This is it? This is the miracle solution? Something so simple?”
You were probably expecting some sort of magic potion that would require you to get the scales of a newt and the feathers of a dodo. Weren’t you?
Should I let you in on another secret? The most valuable treasures are the most simple ones. Not easy, but simple.
Speaking of treasures, this act of deep breathing meditation allows us to gather all our energies and focus them on the treasures that lie hidden within us. This treasure is our “center.” The source of mental clarity required for making the right choices, decisions and actions. Once we bring ourselves into the present moment, we get our hands on the key required to unlock doors to peace and clarity of mind that not only helps us improve our lives but also the lives of all those who come in contact with us.
The first few times you try to do this, your mind will resist with all its force. It will bombard you with questions. How is this even helpful? This is just a fad. What’s so new about this? Why are you wasting your time? Blah. Blah. Blah.
Initially, my mind put up a tantrum like a toddler. It just wouldn’t shut up. This will happen to every person who tries this breathing meditation practice. Don’t give up. Breathe in and let go. Detach. You are breathing. You are alive. That’s all that matters.
Once you pass the initial hurdle, you will have to confront yet another one. Your mind will now want to know whether it’s doing this practice perfectly right.
“Just plain old breathing meditation? Am I doing this right? Is my rhythm correct? Is this the right way?”
As one of the breathing meditation participants in the meeting remarked, the mind is a questioning machine and it shoots questions faster than Tom Knapp firing his shotgun. Relax. You don’t need to answer them or walk around desperately looking for answers. You just need to breathe. Breathe.
Maybe this makes sense to you. Maybe you think this is some sort of new-age buffoonery. Either way, before you jump on any conclusions, just give it a try. It has helped me. It has helped my friends. It will help you too, provided you give it a shot.
You could read the best of books on becoming a swimmer and dream about winning gold at the Olympics like Michael Phelps, but until and unless you get into the water, you have no chance.
When you learn anything new, you have to follow a four-step procedure:
1. Gather information.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice.
3. Experience the information as knowledge.
4. Let go of this information as now it has become a part of you in the form of an experience.
This article already helps you accomplish the first point. You will have to put in efforts for the second point. And then watch how effortlessly the next two points manifest into your life.
Center yourself as soon as you wake up. Center yourself before having your cup of tea. Center yourself before having a conversation. Center yourself before you write that darned exam or after reading an intense novel.
Breathe and let go. Repeat.
This simple breathing meditation practice has allowed me to focus better on the task at hand. It has stopped me from losing myself in an endless spiral of comparison. It has helped me become mindful of the words I am about to utter and stop me from carelessly hurting others. I am just getting started and I have already started experiencing the positive effects. I am more accepting of myself and the world around me. Trust me; the amount of peace this practice brings is beyond the comprehension of your puny mind. I could go on and on, but that wouldn’t mean a dime until you experience it. What are you waiting for?
Breathe. Let the magic unfold.
As you practice you will reach upon a new realization. The lines between “what is” and “what should be” will blur. The present moment will become your greatest friend. It has always been a neglected companion. Now is the time to cherish and revel in its glory.
When you begin to center yourself, you become a human “being” in the truest sense. No longer do you identify with your qualifications or your shortcomings. I am successful/happy/short/ugly/unloved/sad turns into “I am”. Period. That’s all that matters.
No need for fancy kombuchas, hot yoga or long sessions of breathing meditation techniques. Just a few minutes, a dollop of faith and a sprinkle of persistence and you are good to go!
Go surf that ocean of peace. The waves are calling for you.