Holding Our Breath

This morning as I was cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, I noticed something amazing. I was holding my breath! I have practiced mindfulness and yoga for many years now and know the importance of breathing, of being in the present moment. But I was literally holding my breath!

The events of the past several months with the COVID-19 pandemic have created many uncertainties for us. When will it end? Am I safe? Will my loved ones be safe? Will we ever return to “normal” (whatever “normal” is)?

During times of uncertainty – wondering what will happen next – is like holding our breath. But holding our breath – like wishing and hoping – really does not help matters. Instead, if we open up and breathe – the uncertainties, the questions, the fears – become less of a burden and we are able to find space to relax and to simply “be.” Not easy. But a great recommendation during these times.

In chapter 5 of Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s book, Mindfulness: An Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, they suggest that the first step is “waking up to the autopilot.” With COVID-19 many of our “autopilot” responses have come to a screeching halt! However, we still succumb to the old autopilot lure. 

Mindfulness invites us to recognize our autopilot habits – holding our breath being a great example. But think about your days now. Eating and surfing the news for the next piece of information that will only trigger more anxiety. Doing a normal task like cleaning up the dishes and not really noticing what you are doing. Going to the grocery store – eyes forward, just trying to get groceries without breathing the same air as the other customers keeping their social distance. 

The invitation today is to “wake up” from the autopilot of anxiousness. When you eat a meal – eat a meal without the distraction of news. When you make your bed – make your bed. What is coming later in the day will happen without thinking about it. When you brush your teeth – brush your teeth. Notice if you are holding your breath when you do any of these activities. 

Page 83 provides a “Mindfulness of Body and Breath” meditation. The audio for this meditation may be found online at here I encourage you to practice this meditation each day for the next week and notice if it makes a difference as we journey through this COVID-19 time.

I will keep you all In Metta: May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.


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