How to Use Your Breath as Your Instrument

Another Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, but it was far from typical.  This year there were only two of us sitting around my kitchen table. Last year there were 18 seated around my brother’s table.  I totally get the need to stay socially distanced from my family.  After all, why throw away nine months of discipline and isolation in one meal.    For most of us, Thanksgiving this year was different in many more ways than eating at small tables.   It was also a time when our political climate continues to be unstable and despite a newly elected president we are left with tremendous uncertainty.    

Over that past year when the news of the world outside was too tough to take, I found myself turning inwards to reflect on myself, my own life choices, who I wanted to spend time with, and how I wanted to show up when there was more stability. Longing for a time when I could look down the road again with greater expectations. My teachers have taught me that we miss the joy when we get ahead of ourselves and look to the future, instead of being present, but taking the time to look inward isn’t easy to do.  It is much easier to look forwards or back words than being in the moment, because when we are on the move mentally or physically we don’t have to deal with what is.   

It may seem absurd that I am grateful for this past year of relentless challenges, but I am, because it helped me uncover a significant personal insight — I have everything I need — all the basics, my health, a home, a few special friends, my family. And the gift of a creative, curious mind that helps me find my way when I feel a little lost on this journey called life.

Feeling grateful is actually quite simple.  All you need to do is stop long enough to fully experience the moment, and appreciate what you’re grateful for.  Meditation is a way in but you don’t have to be an expert at meditation to experience gratitude.   An easy way is to find your breath, or prana.  My practice looks like this:  I sit or lie someplace comfortable, bring my awareness to my breath and feel gratitude as my lungs slowly fill with air.  I then move my attention to other parts of my body – my beating heart, the skeletal system that holds me up, and the muscles that keep it all together, and my brain that enables me to experience all that. Once I have considered my entire body, I consider people I am grateful for, and places and experiences, and the list goes on.  I follow each inhalation with a deep exhalation, letting go of any thoughts of lacking, anything negative.  I find that the more I do this breath work, the better I get at it, like a flutist whose skill improves with practice, bringing joy to herself and others.   If you can find your breath you can find gratitude and in doing so create your own instrument for peace, well-being and joy – at any moment and at any time.

#feelinggratitude #giving thanks #pranayama #meditation