In the last year and a half, I have been doing some deep work on myself and have been including meditation, yoga and mental exercises to help me stay in the moment and stay in a more positive mind frame. A few of the books that I have enjoyed are “Peace Is Every Step”, by Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”, both by Eckhart Tolle.
One of the most powerful and effective exercises, that really works for me is using the breath to find calm within, regardless of the chaos around me. I can immediately switch to focusing on my breath and stop whatever is overwhelming, stressful or negative. It is simple, easy and immediate.
I would like to share an excerpt from Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”:
From page 244 -246
‘Being aware of your breathing takes attention away from thinking and creates space. It is one way of generating consciousness. Although the fullness of consciousness is already there as the unmanifested, we are here to bring consciousness into this dimension.
Be aware of your breathing. Notice the sensation of the breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body. Notice how the chest and abdomen expand and contract slightly with the in- and outbreath. One conscious breath is enough to make some space where before there was uninterrupted succession of one thought after another. Once conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day, is an excellent way of bringing space into your life. Even if you meditated on your breathing for two hours or more, which some people do, one breath is all you ever need to be aware of, indeed ever can be aware of. The rest is memory or anticipation, which is to say, thought. Breathing isn’t really something that you do but something that your witness as it happens. Breathing happens by itself. The intelligence within the body is doing it. All you have to do is watch it happening. There is no strain or effort involved. Also, notice the brief cessation of the breath, particularly the still point at the end of the outbreath, before you start breathing in again.
Many people’s breath is unnaturally shallow. The more you are aware of the breath, the more its natural depth will reestablish itself.
Because breath has no form as such, it has since ancient times been equated with spirit—the formlessness Life. “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living creature.” The German word for breathing--atmen--is derived from the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) word, Atman, meaning the indwelling divine spirit of God within.
The fact that breath has no form is one of the reasons why breath awareness is an extremely effective way of bringing space into your life, of generating consciousness. It is an excellent meditation object precisely because it is not an object, has no shape or form. The other reason is that breath is one of the most subtle and seemingly insignificant phenomena, the “least thing” that according to Nietzsche makes up the “best happiness.” Whether or not you practice breath awareness as an actual formal meditation is up to you. Formal meditation, however, is no substitute for bringing space consciousness into everyday life.
Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment—the key to all inner transformation. Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind. But far from being in a trance or half asleep, you are fully awake and highly alert. You are not falling below thinking, but rising above it. And if you look more closely, you will find that those two things—coming fully into the present moment and ceasing thinking without loss of consciousness—are actually one and the same: the arising of space consciousness.’
Experiment with this and see if it makes a difference for you. As you experience massage, focus on your breath and you will find that you relax easier on the table. Next time you dread going to a social event, see that annoying person at the grocery store, have to pay the bills, take a moment and focus on your breath. You might find that you get through those moments better than you thought you would!