Jason’s December Message
The Gift of Breathing Mindfully
Does it seem to you that this year has flown by? One minute you are looking forward to your summer holidays and the next you are caught up in the frantic pre-Christmas shopping rush. If you are wise, you will do your very best to opt out of all the seasonal craziness, including buying too much, drinking too much and eating too much. But because we are all energetically connected, it is almost impossible to completely avoid the collective hype around Christmas.
Never fear! I have a special gift for you for December that can be a real life-saver. Every time you feel yourself being sucked into any kind of pre-Christmas rush or panic, just pause for a moment or two and tune into your breath. Now I realise that you may be a bit disappointed that my message to you is so simple, but although it may be simple, it is incredibly empowering! In fact, if I were to be presumptuous enough to give you one piece of advice that might really help you for the rest of your life it would be simply: Never abandon your breath.
This instruction can save your life. It can save your Christmas, your marriage, your friendships, your health and your happiness. Once you commit to spending just a few moments several times a day noticing each breath that you take, your mind will become much calmer. Then, once you regularly calm your mind with this simple practice, your own mind will not be able to play so many nasty tricks on you.
Do you realise that your ever-thinking mind is always trying to scare you with fearful, ‘What if?’ thoughts. For example, you are enjoying a happy Christmas morning and the ‘What if the turkey is too dry and my mother-in-law gives me that look?’ just pops into your mind out of nowhere and you start to feel stressed. Or you get a Christmas card from an old friend and realise that you have not sent them a card this year, and the fearful thought, ‘What if they are really offended?’ goes round and round in your mind all day long.
So whenever you sense that you are becoming stressed because you have so much to do and not enough time to get it all done, or you notice your mind beginning to panic about a possible nightmare future, please just pause and tune into your breath. If as you do this, you notice that your breath is shallow and/or speedy, gently slow down and breathe more deeply. I promise you that if you remember to do this, your panic will automatically begin to subside.
But please do not just breathe mindfully when you notice that you are becoming really stressed or even fearful. Whenever you feel just a bit depressed or uninspired with life, pause, smile gently, and breathe consciously for a while.
The key is to realise that in order to live fully and naturally, you need to flow through life like a great river and we cannot do that if we are hardly breathing. Please understand that any fear or worry that you entertain in your mind will stop energy flowing smoothly around your whole system. Then, if you panic, your whole system can seize up because as you panic, you will tend to breathe in such a shallow way that you almost stop breathing.
In fact, whenever you think too much, you do not breathe deeply enough, and so you suffer. Eventually if you spend all of your days breathing from your throat rather than lower down in your body, you may even become more like a stagnant pond than a pure, powerful flowing river, and a stagnant pond is so lifeless!
So again my Christmas message to you whatever your religious beliefs or lack of them is simply –
BREATHE – BREATHE – BREATHE
When you notice that you are irritated: PAUSE and BREATHE
When you notice that you are anxious: PAUSE and BREATHE
When you notice that you feel a bit depressed: PAUSE and BREATHE
Print ‘BREATHE’ on your forehead so that every time you look in the mirror you will be reminded to take a deep, mindful breath.
Well, maybe that is going a bit too far, but you could actually stick a Post-It note with ‘Breathe!’ written on it on every mirror in your house.
Once you learn to breathe with awareness, your conscious breath can become your prayer – the most powerful prayer you can use.
Whenever you are feeling out of sorts, just use your breath to calm your mind and body. If you feel like shouting at your partner, pause and breathe in and out 10 times before you say anything to them, and I can promise you that you will feel far less like shouting at them.
Two Ways to Breathe Mindfully
One way to breathe well is just to breathe naturally like a baby. As you breathe, breathe deeply so that your abdomen gently expands as you breathe in and contracts as you breathe out.
If you want to try a more empowering way of breathing, just suck your naval point in towards the back of your spine as you breathe in through your nostrils, and then as you breathe out through your nostrils, push your breath downward towards your Base Centre as you lengthen your spine. As you breathe in and out like this, squeeze the muscles around your Base Centre to prevent your energy from leaking downwards.
If you keep practising this empowering breath, you will eventually find that you have more focus and courage in life. You can also make your body stronger and healthier just by breathing more mindfully.
This is a really helpful foundational practice on any genuine awakening path and an extremely effective part of many meditative practices. So from now on, before you leap out of bed and take a shower, take several mindful breaths. Before you eat, take a few mindful breaths, and before you turn on your computer, breathe mindfully just for a minute or two.
Finally, this month, before you launch into any type of Christmas preparations, take a few mindful breaths first. It will give you so much more vitality and inner strength this Christmas, and this wonderful seasonal gift to yourself and all your family will not reduce your bank balance at this expensive time of year by one penny!