We can put our attention anywhere, but so often we chose the negative, painful, troublesome aspects of our lives. Is this the action of our earliest reptilian brains? Are we always in a state of self-preservation, attuned to any possible threat? The sabretooth tigers are gone, but our need to self-protect remains. We conjure up enemies where there are none to be found. Simply to insure our safety. When external threats are absent, we create internal threats. We magnify everything, creating an inner need to react and survive
The consequences are serious though. We BELIEVE that we are protecting ourselves, but we've in fact create armies of enemies much more threatening than the lone predator lurking in the grasses, or the mammoth bounding across the plain.
Knowing that we do this is the first step in changing our behaviors. We must change our thoughts and shift our focus. Think of one good thing. Just one. I am breathing. No big deal, you say? Well, try NOT BREATHING for more than two minutes. Suddenly you realize that NOTHING is as important as your breath. Simple. Not easy. Simple.
Take your breath with you. Of course! You say. Wherever I go, I'm breathing. Yes, but do you take your awareness of breathing with you as well? make that a part of your life - breath awareness. I mean REAL awareness. As you go through your day, notice when your breath feels tight or stuck. Notice when it flows. How deep does it go? Do you feel it all the way down deep into your torso, into Tan Tien, or is it stuck in your chest?
Notice your thoughts and emotions as well. See if they change as you pay attention to your breathing.
I have found amazing shifts. As a person whole likes things "just so," I am constantly noticing what is not "just so." A dish in the sink, a bulging hamper, crumbs on the counter, papers dropped on to my immaculate desk, a spot on the kitchen floor.
First, I stop. Stand still. Remind myself to exhale first. ALWAYS EXHALE FIRST. It takes the tension out of your body. Then, I look at the thing that is troubling me. I take care of it.
In the past, my mind would start ranting, "Why can't they clean their own dishes? Why can't he leave papers in my Inbox instead of all over my desk? Look at the floor - didn't they see that they spilled something?"
What good did those thoughts do me? Nothing at all. They certainly didn't wash the dish or the floor, or magically move my papers where I want them to be. What the thoughts DID do were to unsettle me far more than the things themselves did. It was my mind that went crazy. And that affected my emotions, and that affected my body. My outlook. Poor me! I'm the only one who care about anything around here. I'm Cinderella. All I do is pick up after people.
Breath is long forgotten now. That smooth, even flow has transformed into a torrent, a mess, unsettled, frustrated, constricted. Such power can a dish have!
Happily, those days are gone. The dish is clean of course, and the papers are where I keep them. The floor shines. I am my own master. I put on my dress and go to the ball.