There have been many times in my life I have flirted with meditation. Sometimes it has led to deep and passionate love, and has always guarded me from heartbreak. I was around 10 when I did yoga for the first time; about 14 when I had my first out-of-body experience. I learned how to do reiki when I was 15 and tai chi saved me from myself when I was 23. Time and again, my lungs and heart have been there for me. I got my first singing bowl from papa and the most amazing experiences I have had practicing mindfulness have been with my students and watching them ring the bowl and practicing mindfulness.
In my first year of teaching, a parent of one of my kids sent me this picture...
It summed it up for me. It was the best way I knew then and know now how to explain what mindfulness is to me. Over the years, I have been working to breathe mindfulness. I try to eat mindfully, listen mindfully, walk mindfully, speak mindfully, give and receive love mindfully, sing mindfully, drink tea mindfully, hold Dan's hand mindfully, drive mindfully, and as Thich Nhat Hanh would say in one of my favorite books - Peace is Every Step - I even try to do the dishes mindfully.
Mindfulness has become an integral part of who I am. I sincerely believe in the power of each and every breath taken. And to be able to breathe deeply and take in the world around us, even...no...especially in the midst of chaos - is a gift and a survival tactic I hope Dan and I will be able to share with you.
We live in a world pulsating with distractions. It's as though the world exists far from us, and through technological and other stimuli, we can bring it closer. Really though, I find through the power of a few deep breaths, I get closer to the multiverse beating madly in my own head and far from it all - in the time it takes to breathe a few deep breaths. In mindfulness I have found the detachment I need to let go while fully and completely taking in everything about that moment. Mindfulness has helped me feel whole moments in all their fullness. Whether it was standing at the edge of Pont de l'Archeveche with Dan while listening to the most lovely guitar sounds I've heard produced by a man I will never see again or when it was saying goodbye to Daddo for the last time...being present and in that moment is something I will always hold on to. Mindfulness helped me do that. I have stood in the path of violence, frustration, hopelessness, fright, and rage more times than I can remember. And in each of those times, I have never underestimated and always been blown away by the power of a deep breath.
As you walk your first and then many steps in life, both real and metaphorical, I hope you cultivate and find peace...in every step.