One Breath At A Time: The Journey Back To Reality


4 parts of the breath photoIn an age where anything is accessible at the touch of a button, where we’re expected to respond to emails in the middle of the night, and where the quality of ‘stuff’ we get done far outweighs the quantity, it seems we are losing touch with the small yet incredibly important parts of life that make up each day.

Greatness Is Not The Result Of One Action

The moment you find yourself in now is the result of not just the big moments and the most memorable days, but a culmination of every little detail that occurred up until now. The small and seemingly insignificant interactions and decisions we make in each moment go a long way to creating the life we see in front of us right now. The person you are today is the result of every minute detail that has occurred up until now. If we really knew and understood this though, wouldn’t we care more about how we spent each moment? From brushing your teeth in the morning to saying goodnight to loved ones at night, from something as ‘mundane’ as taking out the bin bags to something as ‘exciting’ as travelling to somewhere completely new; it all counts, and it all requires us to be there for it.

The Problem With Multitasking

multitasking imageThere are thousands of articles online telling us how to be more productive and how to multitask more effectively, and there are thousands more apps which help us multitask and organise the tasks what we’ve got into neat little categories and planned-out timetables.

The thing is, while that’s all very ‘productive’ on the outside, it doesn’t actually help us get anything done. Instead of actually doing a task, we’re too busy downloading the app that will help remind us when, where and how we’re going to do it, and getting distracted by Facebook at the same time…. Even (a major business website) writer and former Google employee Douglas Merrill explains why multitasking isn’t as beneficial as we might believe in his piece HERE.

While performing one action, we are often thinking about something else entirely, either because we’re bored, worried, overwhelmed with a busy schedule, or looking forward to something.

For example, take an action such as washing the dishes; Thich Nhat Hanh has some pretty good advice for this in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness:

“Wash the dishes to wash the dishes”…..

Thich-Nhat-Hanh-Quote-Washing-the-DishesIf the little actions like washing the dishes make up life, then why not choose to do them as fully as we can , to the best of our ability, and experience what it’s like to wash the dishes while focussing on washing the dishes; the sensation for the water, the plates, the soap and the sponge. It may not be exciting, but it’s life and it’s happening right now. If you’re worrying about something coming up in the future, recognise that none of us can control what might happen, we can only take control of what is happening right now.  

Stilling The Mind

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the definition of Yoga is Chitta Vritti Nirodahah, meaning ‘Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind’. We might think this age is complicated and busy, but people’s minds have been a bit of a mess for thousands of years – it’s nothing new.

Vairagya: Non-attachment

vitality imageThe Sanskrit word Vairagya can be translated as ‘dispassion’ or ‘non-attachment’, but it more accurately means ‘un-coloured’ as in not to be ‘coloured’ or ‘effected’ by what we experience; whether it’s something we perceive as good or something apparently bad.

To ‘cease’ the fluctuations of the mind does not mean that the mind then becomes completely blank and our thoughts suddenly ‘stop’; it just means that we no longer live at the mercy of pleasure or pain, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We just see things for exactly the way they are, free from judgement and free from the need to label it, file it and put it in a box, or organise it with an app……

lungs imageThe next time your mind is wandering – use this very simple technique to bring yourself back into the present – where life is happening now – and start living again: 

As you breathe, count the length of your inhale and exhale – this is one of the most effective ways to focus, calm and ‘still’ the mind. As you breathe in, slowly count to five, and as you exhale count to five. Continue this for however long you have time for – it could be literally about 10 seconds, or you could make this your ten minute morning meditation practice to start your day off by being completely present to yourself, and therefore more able to be present for the rest of life.

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