My Friday morning class has been focussing on slowing things down, co-ordinating movement with breathing and observing the pause when the breath turns round. There is a second or two of stillness when you finish breathing in, and before you begin breathing out,and vice versa. This stillness is always available to us – it’s just a question of reaching it.
We are all so busy that it is hard to let go of the things we have to do today,and the busy workings of our minds, even for just an hour and a half. The key is not to beat ourselves up when thoughts cross our minds, but to identify them and let them go. So we’ve been practising ‘filing’ our thoughts into three categories: PLANNING, JUDGEMENTS and LISTS. We acknowledge the arrival of the thought, then we file it in one of the three categories and agree to look at it again later.
At the end of the class today, I read a passage from ‘Peace is Every Step’ by Thich Nhat Hanh, called ‘Breathing Room’. I thought this was a wonderful idea.
‘We have a room for everything – eating, sleeping, watching TV – but we have no room for mindfulness. I recommend that we set up a small room in our homes and call it a “breathing room”, where we can be alone and practise just breathing and smiling, at least in difficult moment. That little room should be regarded as an Embassy of the Kingdom of Peace.’
He goes on to say that the room should not be too bright, and simply furnished with cushions and a bunch of flowers ‘to remind us of our true nature’, and that we should possess a little bell with a beautiful sound. When any of our family enter that room, it is a haven from anger and shouting. Whoever enters should sit and breathe and smile, and sound the bell. This tells everyone else in the house that someone who is experiencing difficulties or anger has entered the breathing room to find peace.
I bumped into a lady yesterday who did not want to continue with the physical practise of yoga in my class, but who thoroughly enjoyed the relaxation and breathing techniques. I made a mental note to give her a copy of the chapter on “The Breathing Room”, and perhaps we can share some ideas on meditation and breathing together, especially now the evenings are getting lighter.