Benjamin Franklin said: “Most people die at 25 but aren’t buried until their 75.” Are you dead? Not physically, but dead to fulfilling one’s potential of who you are beyond your story of self. Whose life are you living? One that you have chosen or one that has been given to you? What do you believe that you are capable of doing? Do you live your life “Walled in Alive” by your limiting beliefs? Are you aware of what your unique gifts and passions are calling to be lived through you? Or are you dead to this possibility? It requires a lot of commitment, exploration, allowing, practice and courage to be willing to be who you really are. Are you dead already and just waiting to be buried? Start by asking the question: “Who am I? What is meaningful in my life? What is calling to be heard?” Act now, rather than wait until they bury you.
Do you know what your next thought will be? If you were in control would your mind criticize and judge you mercilessly like it does? Our minds are meaning making machines. It compares all experience against our unique belief system about who we believe we are. Does it agree or not? It judges everything and then comes up with a new story of self for the moment. This happens autonomously, automatically and subconsciously. We become aware of what our minds have made up and believe we were the ones who consciously thought it. In fact, we are just knowing what our minds have already created and take ownership of it. Our minds have a mind of their own. Free will? I am not so sure!
There are only two ways to be free of pain and suffering. Death and coma. And that is not what mindfulness is about. Mindfulness is not about a silent and peaceful mind. Loss of a loved one, your job, a relationship or your health is difficult. There will be sadness, grief, anger and pain. Mindfulness will not change that. But what it can do is to allow you to hold your pain without fighting and resistance. One holds the suffering with wisdom and compassion.
Learning how to breathe properly is one of the most effective tools you have for stress relief. How do you do it?
Our breath is under automatic and conscious control. Bring your awareness to your breath.
Breathe in a conscious slow, deep and smooth manner through your nose.
Belly rather than chest breathing with the inhalation and exhalation supports relaxation.
Exhalation is the parasympathetic or relaxation response while inhalation is the sympathetic or fight or flight response. Breathe out by at least 1 second longer than what you breathe in. Ultimately aim for slow breathing with an in-breath for a count of 4 and an out-breath for a count of 6. Put them all together and you have the capacity to put out the fire of acute stress or lower the simmer of chronic anxiety.