The new year is upon us. This is the time of resolutions and promises to self often forgotten by February. But what if the commitment to self was more empowered, and leaned into the invitation of the wholeness that is holy, rather than being an obligation? For me, holiness and the sacred is found in Daily Practice.
Daily Practice helps keep me from going crazy. No, seriously, in a world where so little is in our control, seemingly less filled with compassion and more filled with injustice, my daily practice allows me to sink into the safety of the only thing constant in my life, the breath. I encounter people everyday, whether direct or in passing, and wonder… are they breathing? I mean, really breathing? With faces intently locked onto phones, harnessed at the computer, walking briskly, or rapidly talking, I wonder are these people breathing? What might it look like for them to simply acknowledge the breath within their body. The simple, yet realchemizing breath that fills our lungs to energize our blood and move toxins, like stress, out of the body.
In August of 2013, I quit my high-paying job because I couldn’t handle the stress. I had worked myself into a place where I was no longer able to eat or sleep, let alone breathe. By that December my longterm boyfriend had broken my heart, the love I had such hope for was gone, and still I was unable to breathe. I took job in a yoga studio and committed to writing. No, I am not going to write that everything became bliss; if you want that story, read Eat Pray Love. Instead a new set of struggles came in, like was I good enough to work in an industry like yoga? I didn’t look like those people. Could I relinquish my need for control that made my former project management job so comfortable? The changes required deep examination of the self, but rather than being trapped in a life that felt constricting, I leaned into the known. I leaned into my breath and into my daily practices. What’s more, my new colleagues actually demanded it from me (in their loving yogic way).
Daily Practice is giving ourself the permission to breathe. It is accepting that the world will keep spinning regardless of whether I am in it or not, so why not take a moment for myself. It is just one moment. My moment is one downward facing dog every morning and 15 minutes of seated meditation where sometimes I chant. My evenings are a lighted candle and a prayer. And I walk outside as much as possible. But everyone’s practice will be different and it should be, because it is about you and your breath. And so I ask, are you breathing? Right now, wherever you might be reading this, are you giving yourself the permission to breathe just one deep breath with intention? If not, then let this be your invitation. If that is the only intentional breath you have taken or will take today, that is good enough, because you are good enough.
The commitment to breath and to additional practices will be easier as it gets more ingrained in the schedule of your life. Pick a time in the day, 10 minutes at most, and make it your time. I keep a small electric candle in my desk drawer at work, and once at my desk, I light it and give myself a moment to set the intention and the breath. My intention is always the same: “May this day be of merit to all, and may I invite the easeful over the dis-ease.” This one simple act is making my commitment to self at my scheduled time, and doing more than showing up, but rather actively being mindful. It may only last those 10 minutes, but it was 10 minutes more than ever before. Those minutes are life changing, because unlike every other moment, they are 100% yours.
While each person will come into their own daily practice; here are three tips for starting.
Give yourself the permission to have daily practice. Permission to empower one moment in your life that is just for you and the breath.
Thank yourself for giving yourself permission and verbally acknowledge and affirm that you are worthy of living a life that is not full of dis-ease.
Release your affirmation into the day (or night) with gratitude, and offer that the world the dedication of merit. “may all beings benefit from compassion, and give themselves permission to breathe.
Let us reconnect to the breath, to our hearts and minds, and to one precious moment. Just breathe.