9. Breathe.

Breathing is a process of living that I used to take for granted. As you’re reading this now, I’d like you to stop for a moment. Now, take three deep-belly breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth.

 

 

One. 

 

 

Two. 

 

 

Three. 

 

Feels good, huh? 

I remember being in a bookstore with my brother in the winter of 2012 when we were approached by the store’s owner. 

The man caught up with me in the shop’s small store front. He hurried over, ushering me to wait right there. He ran to the back of the shop and pulled out a book on Mindfulness. “It’s just--I can see that you’re not breathing.” I had never been approached by a stranger in this way, and it caught me a little off guard. 

He told me that intuition came from our breath, that Bruce Lee used to enter a room and in one whiff could sense all he needed to know in order to take down his enemies. My breath, he explained, was shallow and ineffective, and was probably contributing both to my anxiety and my inability to let go of something I loved. He told me I needed to look into yoga or meditation. He gave me the book for free, and I grabbed an Osho to boot. 

When we got home that day, I read some of the book he’d gifted me. It was interesting, but I had a million things to do, and didn’t really have time to give it my full eyes. 

But, because the world works in mysterious ways, I wound up in a meditation course through completely unrelated circumstances just two months later. My roommate Priscilla suggested yoga just after that (1), followed by an encouraging Groupon suggestion from my friend Anja, and the rest is history.

Because breathing is such an unconscious act--air funnels in and out through our noses whether we observe it or not--it is easy to forget its great importance. By regulating our breathing, we can regulate the way we experience the world. We can calm ourselves down. We can learn to be present in the moment (2). 

Sometimes I’m better at meditating than I am at others--sometimes I forgot to work it into my schedule. But even one deep breath in a time of stress can help bring me back to the present--and the present gives new opportunities for happiness with each passing minute. Returning to my breath helps me actively create my reality by putting me in a calmer, clearer state of mind, and may be the single most important tool I’ve learned in life (3). 
 

My meditation classes have always compared observing your thoughts to observing the movement of the clouds. You can always watch them, but don't hold on to them too tightly as they float on by. Tottenham, London, 2016. 

My meditation classes have always compared observing your thoughts to observing the movement of the clouds. You can always watch them, but don't hold on to them too tightly as they float on by. Tottenham, London, 2016. 

1. I admit that I may have been more willing to try yoga due to the power of suggestion. It's all part of the path. 
2. Don't just take my word for it. There is a lot of scientific research on this, including hoards of peer reviewed materials that you can't access without university credentials I no longer have. 
3. If Mindfulness Meditation is something you're interested in, I would encourage you to check out some free links to beginners meditations here

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10. When I recognize and respect the synchronicity in my life, good things happen for me.* The fact that I was in a position to take a meditation course focusing on breathing techniques two months after being approached by a stranger seemed too coincidental; the universe was trying to tell me something. A good friend of mine is always telling me that while he’s not sure he believes in signs, perhaps the sign itself is the fact that we think its a sign. We know what direction we’re being pulled in. 

Regardless of whether these are actually Coehlo-esque Omens or not, the fact that we believe them to be means something.

*This is my version of, "Go with your gut." 
3.6.17 Addendum. I decided these two posts belonged together. 

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