Be the most ethical, the most responsible, the most authentic you can be with every breath you take, because you are cutting a path into tomorrow that others will follow.”
I am beginning again; returning to the practice of sitting mediation.
I began my graduate work at Naropa University in August of 2006, where part of my counseling studies included a mediation class. I was excited and eager to learn how to meditate. Translation: perfect a sitting meditation practice.
Letting go of perfection was a large part of my graduate studies, and still is.
One of my early reading assignments was titled, “Taking Your Seat.” I was concurrently annoyed by what I assumed to be self explanatory, and intrigued by what in world is the big deal. Sit down and breathe, isn’t that fairly simple?
Actually, how you sit down to do anything in your life is actually a big deal.
I had the same cavalier attitude about teaching 2 year olds. I thought they would clean up, sit for my fascinating circle time, and do toddler yoga. I discovered I had lots to learn when I turned off the light as a signal to stop, look, and listen.
It was akin to asking my 17 year old questions when he’s buried in his phone. Not immediately productive. Clearly, this was going to be a process, and not an event.
A tiny step forward was adding a visual. Taking audience requests for breathing ideas was another step in the right direction, ownership of the activity. Finally, we began making up our own breathing ideas, such as, a fire truck breath, a tiny butterfly breathing, and a hot spicy pepper breath (my personal favorite).
A routine over time establishes a ritual because it becomes a process everyone looks for and enjoys. The consistency and the novelty created our ritual.
Even our circle time has the components of this process:
- We unite together with a Hello, Everybody song.
- We disengage from our open play time with 3 deep breaths.
- We connect to each other with a short simple song.
- We engage with a new topic or concept for learning.
This practice marks all of our transitions: Stop. Look. Listen. Breath. Then move. Don’t we all need a moment to breathe before moving to the next thing?
Guiding 2 year olds in slowing down, attending to a group process, riding the waves of emotion, and impulsivity has been an incredible mirror for my own practice. How do I take my seat and hold my center in all moments, especially the challenging ones is worth perfecting.
Stop, look, listen, and breath.
And begin again.