Yes, you breathe thousands of times each day. But what if you turned breathing into a practice of being in the present moment?
This matters because our brains go all over the place in a crisis. It may flit to the past, wistfully wishing that things were the way they were or regretting things that happened. Mostly, it goes to the future, filling itself with fear or churning away on potential solutions to possible problems.
Meanwhile, you’re breathing. You’re here. You’re in this moment. It’s really all you have. Everything else is a brain hijack waiting to happen.
The good news is that you’re a pro at breathing. You do it without thinking. You can use this special ability to focus yourself on where you are right now. It’s simple:
- Choose a trigger for yourself. You can set an hourly timer, or use another common activity as a way to remind yourself to breathe. I recommend using hand-washing as a trigger during this crisis since it’s something we’re asked to do obsessively anyway.
- Take five really big, deep breaths.
- During the time it takes you to take those breaths, simply notice your surroundings, the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations.
- Savor what is good in that moment.
If nothing else, you will have noticed that you just got five more breaths. You didn’t earn them. You can’t store them up. You can’t earn interest on them. They won’t lose value if the market tanks today. They’re just a gift.
Being present counters the destructive narrative of distraction, the temptation to live in the past or the future when we only have this moment. We need you here right now, doing your best work. Use your breathing to keep yourself here.