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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Further Adventures in Mindfulness: By a Bumbling Practitioner

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Ahhhhhhhhhh

This is just what it looks like—a long, relaxed verbalized sigh. According to neuroscientist Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time , when your exhale is longer than your inhale, it sends a message of safety to the brain. This is also a zapchen exercise.

Further Adventures in Mindfulness: By a Bumbling Practitioner

I have to say that even after all these months of sitting for a few minutes of mindfulness most mornings, when I begin, part of me often still objects (my ego self and my accuser taking turns):

  • Why am I doing this?

  • This isn't going to work.

  • You're being selfish.

  • It's a waste of time.

  • My body is too old to sit like this--I'll never make it.

  • You're no good at this.

  • This is pointless.

  • You have things you need to do.

And sometimes just, "STOP!"

Alternatively, sometimes I think, "Aren't I great for doing this? I'm so spiritual." That's at least as un-centering as some of those negative voices. Silly me.

Underneath I think there may be fear as well--fear of getting taken in, of connection, of change. Maybe even fear of a quiet peacefulness?

Fortunately as I sit there listening to all this, I'll remember that yesterday or the day before or a week ago, I felt a hopeful calm by the end of a session, even though parts of me were saying exactly the same kinds of things at the beginning.

So I try to remember to simply pay attention to the sensations of my breathing. Or if I can't do that to just sit. Sometimes I shift the pillows around. Or open my eyes, or close them. And then go back to breathing...but with a loose kind of awareness, instead of fierce.

Here are two of the best things, as I see it, about sitting and breathing mindfully, both related to humility. First, it immediately shows me my imperfection--all those naysayer voices, and my mind wandering, over and over. But there is always acceptance as well, if I allow it. Silly me. I'm thinking breath is still here...breathing...

Secondly, as I sit sometimes I am able to let everything fall away (except awareness of my breathing). There is a humility that comes with this: Oh...I can get along for a few minutes without any thinking or doing. In fact, the world can get along, for a few minutes anyway, without my thinking or my doing. This offers a great unburdening, even if it only lasts while I sit.

For me an even deeper humility comes occasionally when I sense in some small way the very Breath of Life. Amazing. For me this is a connection with God; others may see it it differently.

Speaking of God, for those of you who might worry that mindfulness is too "you-centered" and not enough "God-centered," perhaps you could think of it this way: in being mindful, we are simply experiencing the beauty of God from the inside, listening for the Melody as it is expressed, at the moment, via that aspect of creation that you can most easily access: You.

Some mornings when I sit? Nothing. I am distracted the whole time, or my leg hurts, or I just can't seem to settle in. But at least I am being moderately still for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes, which is an accomplishment in and of itself in this age of perpetual motion.

Some mornings, if I can allow my mind to be passably still and let go of my need to control, I ease into a quiet state where time does not hold me captive.

And then, every once in a while, it seems I am being welcomed into the quiet heart of the Universe itself. Just for a heartbeat, or a mini-second. Or maybe it's just into the foyer, or onto the steps of the front porch. But such a gift. And a mystery. Just for being with my breath.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Woman...ahhhh, Miguel Bautista, unSplash

Woman sitting, unknown

Child, Jonathan Borba, unSplash

Shell & water, Wynand van Poortvliet, unSplash


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1 Comment

Michael Sigelman
Michael Sigelman
Oct 07, 2021

I promised I’d respond last week…but I didn’t. Now I am! I’ll email you so you know to check too, just in case this doesn’t go through. Putting the twins to bed, so I’ll read this entry thoroughly before bed!

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