“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Everything we need to connect us to the present moment is right under our nose, it seems an insanity that we forget about this inherent and vital anchor of life. Our breath.
There we are, reading books, following teachers, studying ancient philosophy, practicing spirituality, all to find some kind of grounding in an uncertain world.
We want to feel safe, worthy of belonging and loved for who we are. We want to simple BE, but most of what we do to be is do.
What if all the wisdom traditions and healing practices boil down to one simple thing. Breathing.
Eckhart Tolle says that one conscious breath -in and out- is a Meditation, and Meditation is just being (with) oneself. Here it is, the simple, unexcited, ordinary and obvious answer to the seemingly complex and never-ending questions and quests of our suffering mind looking for peace.
And yet, we bypass it, shrug it off, ignore this crystal-clear doorway to the NOW that seems so unattainable to the restlessness of our ego. Let’s face it, we don’t want to give up the search and simply be. At least on some level. Why otherwise would we keep on moving away or towards some thing or another, whilst we, on some intuitive, self-reflected level perfectly well know that all we have to do is STOP. Stop all of it. The perfecting, the optimizing, the growing, the transforming, the looking into the future or regretting the past, the striving and yearning, the longing and the wishing.
We would have to accept the mundanity of our breath and its power to guide us back into everything we are looking for “out there”. We would have to surrender the effort, let go of the search. We would have to just be, and breathe and appreciate that that is all there is to being. This ordinary moment, perfect in its imperfection, peaceful in its simplicity, safe in its unattachment to what is, free in its non-involvement with the future or the past. But maybe not what the mind what looking for. No big revelations, no trumpets, no fireworks. Just presence.
I don’t know about you, but every time I surrender to the presence of my breath I think to myself “why did it take me this long”, or “so simple and so beautiful”, BUT, I have to admit, beforehand I always have a whole lot of resistance. My partner is a breath therapist, I could have sessions and do workshops regularly, but my mind and body usually resist it.
I am not sure what it is exactly, but I suspect that the mind is incredibly cunning and convincing in talking us out of the obvious things that help us to come back to ourselves. I believe it feels threatened by the effortless practices of slowing down and looking in. It will tell us a grand tales of all the mountains we have to climb and techniques we have to master before we can arrive, whilst the truth of the matter is that it is here already. Nowhere to go, nowhere to look. Just stop, breathe and see.
Everything we are looking for is available in this very moment, right under our nose.
Breathe and be free.
Co-Founder DIMA Mallorca, Centre for Conscious Living