Life keeps us in a constant state of “doing” mode. We race from one event to the next, make countless decisions, and rarely pay attention to the one thing that allows us to do anything — the breath. By consciously learning how to focus on the breath, you create an immediate bridge to better health, clarity of mind, and human connection.
What happens when we are in continuous planning mode, living from the past or have lost a meaningful connection to oneself? We miss out on what brings joy into an overly full and often hectic life. One may be driven to seek out a complete overhaul, start over, recluse, or patchwork any remaining pieces together, only to learn that what you’ve been trying to avoid continues to show up again and again.
What shows up for you? Empty. Hollow. Vacant from life. Auto-pilot. Short-tempered. Reactive. Distant. Distracted. Surfaced. Scared. Aggressive. Manipulative. Doubtful. Sad. Lonely. Attached. Stuck.
Welcome to life-ing. Suffering. Or simply stated–another part of BEing HUMAN.
I spent years on this downward spiral which was full of distracted moments due to thoughts that hijacked my attention, depleted energy levels, and an impostor syndrome of who I was. Outwardly, I portrayed a healthy lifestyle, positive attitude and acted like I had my shit together. But on the inside, behind closed doors, my state of mind, physical health and connection to self and others, fell off the deep end (more on this later).
BEing human, is a continuous state of living under construction. In order to clearly see our inner framework and be in touch with the vulnerable landscape of the heart, deconstruction of thoughts, patterns, and behaviors are at the forefront in order to understand who we are.
This realization helped me pry open closed doors to discover the tools and experiences of mindfulness meditation. Developing a daily practice was the #gamechanger Consciously creating time in my day, for myself, thoughts, body, and heart to settle has allowed more peace and ease than I could have ever imagined possible.
Although I was a yoga teacher, practitioner, and school educator at the time, in order to experience deconstruction, I had to get out of my own way. Let go of the daunting self-narrated story of “I can figure this out on my own”. “If I eat this, drink that, or buy it from Amazon, things will get better”. “ If only I plan a vacay to get away and clear my head”, etc.
I had to stop it.
Stop all of it and just sit.
To get outside of my comfort zone and do nothing (or at least I thought it was nothing at the time) allowed me a chance to explore a place of foreign unknown bodily stillness that was new, yet showed up as an unexpected gift of living with the present moment. I learned how to experience the breath and breathing as a practice which supported me to connect with who I was from the inside out. Ahhhh….this is what being feels like!
The intention of this post and many more to follow are to serve as a learning toolkit of discovering a middle-way that allows access to the BEing side of human—the messy, the sticky, the stuff we’d rather avoid. We do this by gently diving in, kindly acquiring skills of awareness, attention, and heartfeltness, one breath at at time. You don’t have to abandon life and live in an ashram or on silent retreat for months to have a life that is joyous, abundant, and fulfilling.
Think of mindfulness meditation as an experience that allows you to remember what has been here all along. It is a practice of kindly giving yourself permission to open a closed door and let some light in.
Life-ing, adulting, living, BEing is not easy. Being human, we will suffer death, illness and aging. All human conditions so many of us try to prevent or outrun, only to be sucked back into the rabbit hole by behaviors, thought patterns, and reactions which keep us stuck. The good news–we are able to learn how to gradually build skills and be guided to acquire a personal tool belt for exploration of how mindfulness meditation may serve as a gateway to truly live in and from the present moment. Because without being aware, fully committed to NOW, we will forever be lost.
Let it begin with the breath.
Are you breathing right now? How do you know?
AWARENESS – for the next week, I challenge you to commit to your breath. This is not a legal contract, or binding you to marriage, this is a commitment to your health and well-BEing. Being human so that you can experience more clarity, compassion, and connection. Scientific American studies show how breath practices can help improve sleep, anxiety, and other symptoms that interfere with showing up fully aware as well.
Am I breathing right now? Of course you are. But how much time have you allowed to notice breathing today? The experience of breathing is always happening, yet little to no attention is given to the one and only process that keeps us alive. So let’s break it down. Less is more. Every time you choose to return to the feeling of breath, you are focused. You are here – physically, in the body. The mental and emotional parts may take some time to catch up, and that is okay! But they will eventually arrive, align, and settle in.
- Start where you are. You can be anywhere. To create a formal practice of mindfulness meditation, it is suggested to set up a posture that allows for you to be awake, at ease, and supported. But this can look like anything for anyone at anytime- in the car, underneath a tree, standing. Just begin.
- Stay curious— cu·ri·ous | \ ˈkyu̇r-ē-əs: marked by desire to investigate and learn. Learning can actually be fun when there is a purpose or meaning, an incentive or something to be gained.
- Focus. Close your eyes or softly take your focus to something still.
- Choose to shift your attention to the felt experience of breathing, in this very moment.
- Invite and experience where you feel breath happening in the body the most. Kindly investigate. Don’t be a jerk and criticize yourself or try to breathe perfectly. Just breathe. Is breath felt more through the nostrils, the mouth, movement of chest, belly or no sensations of breathing at all?
- Hang out here. Spend some time. You may set a timer for 3 – 5 minutes if you want, but the moment you want to stop, open your eyes, or follow the thought pattern floating through your mind, come back to the breath with purpose, kindness, and an ability to receive this generous act being as your source of living. Let go of thinking you must do this for a certain amount of time.
- What do you notice? Breathing fast or slow? Deep? Short? Rigid? Full?
You may choose to continue for as long as you’d like and become more aware of the present moment by listening to the sound of the breath, notice its temperature, length, how it feels at the tip of the nose, in the belly, etc. Keep it simple and focus on one aspect at a time. Set up a time daily for you to explore this practice for the next 7 days. Write about it, talk to friends about it. Email me or add to the discussion group in post.
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I’m in the process with you. The path is a place of of rediscovery for me as well. From my career, relationships, and development of an updated website, my purpose is to bring experience, life lessons, and support for what shows up in the body, mind, and heart into a framework with skills and helpful tools for your to foster and navigate your own personal journey with more joy, sense of purpose and love.
Stay tuned for more as christycurtisyoga.com soon goes under construction. However, one-on-one, group sessions continue to be available for yoga and mindfulness in addition to Educational professional development workshops and speaking engagements. Contact me for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org