Walking my dog the other day, my mind was a blur of to dos. I made mental lists and prioritization timelines for when I would actually accomplish these tasks and what route Theo and I could take to get back home ASAP.
It was a walk of all business: mental efficiency and maximization without an ounce of stroll or presence for that matter.
A few seconds later, however, my eye caught something stunningly beautiful peeking out of the fence to my right.
It was a blooming rose. And as if guided by reflex, I found myself immediately bending down to smell it.
Its fragrance was exquisite. It was sweet, clarifying, and it jolted me right back to the present moment.
I realized immediately after said inhale that I - a teacher of meditation, stress reduction and breathing technologies - had barely been conscious of my breath all day.
I checked the time on my phone (1:05 PM), and faced the music. Besides some early morning meditation, my awareness had been miles away from one of its greatest anchors and dearest friends - the breath.
I took stock of what else had transpired that day: I had gone on a training run to prepare for India, spent more time than usual driving, spoken to a future Workplace Wellness client, stopped at a favorite cafe for tea, ate a quick snack, and was now walking Theo.
And through the thread of activities that day, though I wasn’t hyperventilating or necessarily breathing shallowly, the power of my awareness wasn't with me in the here and the now. And I was less energized, focused, and consolidated because of it.
I found the whole experience, to be wonderfully illuminating. How incredible to witness my own mindless mistakes and experience a personal reckoning of awareness through something beautiful that stunned me back into the now.
I thanked the rose, smiled in spite of myself, and decided to be present with my breath all the way home.
We all have a wealth of opportunities each day to “jolt” us back into the moment at hand. The voice of a friend on the phone, the lick of a puppy, the sip of a great cup of coffee. Certainly, the beauty of a flower, or a bird, or even a stunning picture on social media.
The question is, do we have the emotional capital to utilize those opportunities as an honest self-check of consciousness?
Can we be awake enough to laugh at ourselves, and then come back to a centered, steady breath? And can we do it even if it has to happen again, and again ( and again)?
The answer - is yes. It has to be “yes” in order to survive and thrive in this modern age.
As I write this now, I'm focusing on my inhales and exhales. I’m enjoying the play of fullness and emptiness in this dance of breath. And as I do so, I am quite simply, realigned.
The rubik’s cube of my inner world makes more sense. My mind comes back under my control. The waterfall of thoughts start to transform into a more manageable lazy river. I feel my body supported by a sturdy chair. I feel my heartbeat, my fingers typing, the subtle sounds and sensations of the space around me.
In other words, I feel the presence of this moment. The exceptionality of its gift. And you can too.
All it takes is one intentional breath to move from barely conscious to fully awake, aware, and alive.
When our breath is full, our life is full. Here’s to that conscious fullness today and all days.