“You can not control the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
I love this quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn! It is a beautiful reminder that we can not control the many things in our lives we find stressful, but we can cultivate the skills and tools to navigate life when the waters become choppy.
One remarkable and empowering self-nurturing tool is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention on purpose with an attitude of curiosity and non-judgement. It is a beautiful tool used to bring us into the present moment and to connect us with the infinite possibilities available in each moment.
The practice of bringing our attention to the present moment enriches our experience of that moment and provides space to respond to stressors rather than react to them.
As the wise Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world. A chance to make peace possible for the world, a chance to make happiness possible for the world.”
Yet how can we make peace with the world when we are feeling so overwhelmed, stressed out and exhausted. How can we remember to use our mindfulness tools when we feel swept up in the tides of our lives?
One easy and accessible mindfulness tool with us whether we are aware or not is our breath. This simple, yet powerful tool can always connect us to the present moment. Reminding ourselves to breathe can transform a stressful situation, provide space to use our other tools, and ultimately empower us.
For a moment, pause, and take three deep full body breaths in and out.
Then ask yourself the following questions with curiosity, compassion and non-judgement:
1. Is this the first time today that I have breathed intentionally?
2. How do I feel now that I have connected to my breath and the present moment?
3. Could using my breath help anchor me when I am feeling out of control on the waves of life?
Now take three more deep breaths in and out. Try a mantra when you breathe in like “I breathe into this moment” and when you breathe out, “I breathe out peace.”
Taking a few moments to breathe throughout the day allows us to come home to ourselves. When we reconnect with ourselves we can check in with how we feel and what we need and make intentional decisions rather than react to our stressors. This process is of reconnecting with ourselves is essential in our self-nurturing process and guides our actions. Cultivating this simple mindfulness skill of pausing to breathe will empower you to create peace in any moment and feel more present and aware.
“When we feel happy and peaceful, our happiness and peace radiate around us, and others can enjoy it as well.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Therefore when you intentionally breathe, you are cultivating peace and happiness in the world. As with all acts of self-nurturing the ripple effects are endless and that is the beauty of this practice. Knowing that we can actually create peace one breath at a time no matter how challenging life can be, provides us with the confidence to embrace life fully.
With all in life we cannot control, knowing that a powerful tool resides right under our noses can inspire us to live with more peace, joy and faith.
May you embrace mindfulness in your daily life, cultivating peace and joy one breath at a time, and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out.
Please share your comments below to inspire and encourage others!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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