I breathe when it’s cold
I breathe when it’s hot
I breathe when it’s raining
I breathe when there is sun.
Whatever the weather, I breathe.
I breathe when I’m happy
I breathe when I’m sad
I breathe as I think of regrets
I breathe when I’m at peace.
Whatever the mood, I breathe.
I breathe when I want to
I breathe when I have to
I breathe when it’s easy
I breathe when I struggle.
No matter the context, I breathe.
I breathe to begin the day
I breathe at its end.
A breath began my life
A breath will be the last thing I know.
Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I breathe.
Conscious or unconscious
awake or asleep
loving or loathing
living or dying
I breathe, I breathe, I breathe.
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked us to write something that relies on repetition.
Stuck in a thought
I have no idea what to write
I pause, hesitate,
fingers hovering above the keyboard
with nowhere to go.
I step behind the thought.
I see the rest of the world,
I see a candle flickering
I hear my husband snoring,
it may snow tonight.
This life is a mystery,
so much to be discovered.
I might see some of it
if I step out of the prison
of thoughts like
I have no idea what to write.
A deep breath expands me,
I am fulfilled.
I never had to write anything,
I do this because I want to.
Realizing this is freeing enough
to pause and smile.
I have no idea what to write?
This life writes itself
if I can step back
and simply observe
its perfect unfolding.
He is in pain
and there is nothing we can do about it.
He has been to doctors of all kinds
and no one knows what is causing it.
He has tried exercises, supplements,
undergone all sorts of tests and imaging
and now he is trying to modify his diet.
I feel helpless watching him suffer.
He manages to work through it
because he wants to continue
to support our family,
worries what would become of us
if he couldn’t work…
He comes home, grimacing
from the pain in his back.
I rub that gooey green gel on him
when we both know it won’t do much.
Again I feel helpless.
I don’t want to see him suffer.
There is nothing I can do for him…
And then today I remember tonglen,
the taking and sending practice.
and picture him in front of me.
I visualize breathing his pain
into the vast inner space of my heart,
so that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.
I breathe out, seeing him
healing, feeling good, feeling happy,
balanced, at ease, at peace.
I do this over and over again
for thirty minutes.
Later in the day I ask
How are you feeling honey?
Actually, not so bad today he says.
Dare I think my meditation helped him?
Dare I think it didn’t?
It doesn’t matter.
I’ll keep doing it anyway.
Each breath makes a difference.
Our minds are constantly churning with thought;
why not put them to good use?
Instead of polluting the atmosphere with negativity,
why not breathe positive thoughts into space?
Picture a loved one in front of you.
Picture their face; maybe you say their name.
As you inhale,
imagine taking in their suffering,
whatever it is,
breathe it in to lift it from them.
Take their suffering
into the vast space of your open heart,
larger than the clear blue sky,
where it dissipates
the way clouds dissipate in the sun.
As you exhale,
visualize sending them peace,
health, joy, freedom, confidence.
Send them whatever will help them,
whatever will comfort them.
Keep giving and receiving
on the medium of the breath
and notice how this practice
After you’ve worked with
the suffering of others,
look what happens
when you turn toward your own suffering.
You realize that you are not alone.
You realize that suffering is normal
in this real, human life of ups and downs.
You can work with your own suffering,
breathing it into the open space of your heart,
breathing out the antidote to suffering.
Notice how it connects you
with the rest of humanity.
Notice how it’s not the end of the world.
Practice in this way every day.
Watch what happens.
Sitting here, trying to stay awake
I bring my attention back
to the give and take of the breath.
Faces of loved ones, friends, family
appear before me
and for each one in turn
I breathe in their suffering
and send to them peace, joy,
health, ease of well-being.
This practice reminds me
that we all suffer in one way or another.
It shows me how not to fixate
on my little self in the enormity
of this amazing universe.
And then, when I turn my attention
back to my own suffering,
it is with wider eyes
and a heart that remembers,
You are not alone.
opening my arms wide,
receiving from life.
my hands meet in front of me,
giving to life.
Smiling as I breathe,
that life is never stuck,
this movement in me
mirroring the movement
of the waves, the planets,
remembering that I have my place
in all of this.
I just remembered to take a deep breath.
My mind immediately engaged
with thoughts like
You should remember
to take deep breaths more often.
Thoughts like these cause me to constrict,
to stop breathing,
to doubt myself,
I haven’t made enough “progress.”
It occurs to me
that I can immerse myself in the experience
of simply breathing.
To dive into the sensations,
to stay with my body.
Will there come a time
when the pull of my head
isn’t as strong?
It occurs to me
that awareness of my thinking
puts me at choice.
I can engage with the thoughts,
or I can just notice them
and redirect my attention
to this moment, this breath.
This is the essence of meditation.
Ah, so my mind is my teacher.
My mind speaks loudly,
and gives me the chance
to practice being aware.
And meditation isn’t simply
thirty minutes on my cushion
everyday for five and a half years…
Meditation is now.
It’s this moment
of taking a deep breath,
having a thought about breathing
and remembering to breathe again.