I still remember one of the first times I sat down alone with the intention to meditate. I had recently returned from my first 200-hour yoga teacher training, a winter of slow living at a mountain ashram. I was just launching my massage therapy practice, working in Boulder, traveling to all of its suburbs, and reconnecting with old friends. Life was moving fast. Too fast. “I’m going to meditate every day,” I declared with the zeal of a true beginner. My intention was to force life to slow down. Six years later I can very honestly tell you I still haven’t gotten the hang of meditating every day. But: I no longer feel like life is speeding by me. What’s the secret?
One deep breath.
I take one deep breath as I wake up in the morning and one just before I fall asleep at night. I take one deep breath when I brew my coffee or tea, and one when I first step outside each morning. I take one deep breath when I’m in the midst of fun with friends, when I slow down on my yoga mat, when I experience the joy of meeting one of my client’s babies for the first time. I take one deep breath when someone cuts me off in traffic, when I have a pounding headache, when I feel overwhelmed or terribly sad. When life feels like it is flying by, I take one deep breath.
Taking these deep breaths offers a pause in my day. It offers one single moment to slowly notice how I feel. Sometimes I take a deep breath and simply ask: what do I need today? Sometimes I take a deep breath to remember to hold a particular feeling or moment in my heart. The beautiful thing about this practice is that it doesn’t require any extra time or equipment. No matter how busy you feel, how joyful or exhausted, how capable or helpless: anyone can take one deep breath.
This single breath in each moment of life reminds me there is time for my experience— happy or sad, joyous or heartbreaking. I don’t wish any moment away, and in this practice life stopped speeding by me and started flowing one breath at a time.
(This post was originally featured on the Mama'hood blog in January 2016.)