Right Here, Right Now (written 2014)
There's an old country song that has a line something like “Give me forty acres and I'll turn this rig around.” The singer is a frustrated truck driver in a bind. Once eighteen wheels and a full load are underway, changing direction, or stopping, can be challenging.
Habits can be like that too. There are those who believe in cold turkey, of course. Just stop smoking. Just quit snacking. Just start that exercise program. Just do it. And quit your whining while you're at it, is often implied. I prefer a more graduated approach.
We're going full bore most of the time in this society. And we're holding our breath. We work and play at such a pace that we're often not enjoying either. And most of us are waiting for the time that we will, that place and time when peace and ease will be available: the vacation next winter, time with friends this weekend, retirement.
What practice has revealed to me is that this is available now.
I sit everyday. And these days I sit for an hour most of the time. But I didn't start with an hour and I remember being scared to death when I read once that one should sit for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening every day. It just doesn't have to be so. What is needed is a commitment to making a space, to being with the breath, to being right here and right now in some sort of consistent way.
Taking a few easy and deliberate breaths upon waking, before jumping up to begin the day. Back in bed at day's end, breathing consciously until sleep descends. That might be enough.
Breathing instead of twitching and counting train cars at the crossing. Breathing at a red light. Breathing as you stand in line. Breathing in a waiting room. Breathing while you wait for the kettle to boil.
It sounds so simple. Of course, I'm breathing. We all are if we're alive. But this is conscious breathing and at first it takes effort to stay present. Only a few breaths. A minute. Two minutes or three. It doesn't have to be long. But what becomes apparent is that moving into the body in this way, stills the mind. The have to do's, the worries, the memories and regrets, the anger, they all stop spinning. Balance returns.
It is absolutely so that when the mind tastes this, it wants more. It's more addictive than “Game of Thrones” or dark chocolate. And just as we'll go back sooner or later, for the next episode, or the next treat, we'll go back to this stillness again.
It has a momentum of its own. No resolutions required. Just the willingness to try it, to see for yourself.
Unlike a vacation or the weekend, as you develop this peace, you find it is accessible any time and anywhere. It's available when bad news comes, when you look in the mirror and know you're growing old, when gas prices go up and income goes down, when there is disappointment and when there is pain. These things will still happen, of course. These are the truths of a mortal life. But right here and right now peace and ease are also available. It doesn't take forty acres and strong arms. Just a willingness to be with this breath. And then the next.