A Simple, Calming Practice

Stress is so much a part of our lives, we hardly notice it anymore. Or, I should say, we hardly consider it anything but the norm. It just kind of “is.” And we go on, resigned, coping.

Our minds run and run from the drama of the everyday (“No one refills the dog’s water except me!”) to the thoughts we too easily believe (“What’s the point anyway, I’ll never be smart enough!”) all the way to real trauma and loss.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pause button? Believe me, I’m no master, but that’s the power of meditation. I’m told I can call it that - that big grown-up word that goes with “should, but don’t” even more than exercising every day. Or flossing. Or organizing old photos. Right?

Stay with me if you will. If you practice breathing when you don’t need it, then when you do, it’s right there and ready to bale you out of a mental mess.

In a wild and windy storm, you can be the roots of the tree, and get the heck out of the branches.

I just finished a Tich Nhat Hanh book (“How to Sit”), and I’d like to share the bits I think will support you most:

The first thing to do is stop doing whatever you’re doing.
If you’re not already, sit down somewhere comfortable.
Notice your breathing.
As you breathe in, notice that you’re breathing in.
As you breathe out, notice that you’re breathing out.

If it helps, count your breaths. Count one for the first in and out breath. Two for the second… If your mind wanders and you lose count, gently go back to one and begin again.

Your breath will become peaceful, and that will calm you down. When you’re calm, you see more clearly. You become more compassionate to yourself and others.

Relax all of your muscles. Imagine smiling. You don’t have to actually smile, just imagine yourself smiling to relax your face.

Sitting is enjoying the pleasure of doing nothing. Being in touch with our body, and all that our senses bring us. Smell, hear, see, feel.

You’re not waiting for something to happen. You’re just sitting to sit, in the present moment.

We don’t sit to become smarter or more enlightened. We sit just to enjoy sitting and breathing.