- As you breathe in, know that you are breathing in.
- As you breathe out, know that you are breathing out.
Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace? I think that will depend on whether the people in the peace movement can ‘be peace’. Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace. If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people smile. If we are not peaceful, then we cannot contribute to the peace movement.”
Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?”
It’s tempting to fall into inaction right now. The war in Ukraine, right on the heels of a global, once-in-a-century pandemic, feels overwhelming. If you’ve wanted to just hide in bed in the fetal position, you’re not alone. These are challenging times for sure.
But while there are some things about this moment that feel unique, I remind myself that the experience of the world ending is not new. Whether due to a prophecy or a very real looming threat, many of our ancestors also likely felt that the world was ending. And in many cases their worlds did end. The devastation on Easter Island, the fall of Carthage, the arrival of Columbus, the centuries of chattel slavery, the destruction of Hiroshima, the Cold War, even the Cuban missile crisis — these all must have felt like the end of the world. Facing loss, despair, uncertainty, and death is as much a part of the human experience as anything else.”
- To foster peace, we must be peace.
- To be peace, we must practice mindfulness.
Now, more than ever, we need to practice mindfulness. My preferred method for daily mindfulness is qigong, but use whatever art resonates with you. If you don’t have any experience with mindfulness, then my book is a good place to start.
But first, just take a moment to breathe. Can you take 3 conscious breaths right now? Just three.
- As you breathe in gently through your nose, think, “I know that I’m breathing in.”
- As you breathe out gently through your nose or mouth, think, “I know that I’m breathing out.”
Repeat 3 times. It’s incredibly simple. Peace is simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
If you fail, if you cannot even take 3 mindful breaths — then try again. Try later today, or tomorrow morning, but please try again.
What if the world truly is ending? Breathe anyway. In 1948, C.S. Lewis said:
If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
Lewis didn’t mention breathing specifically, but I think it is the ultimate example of a “sensible and human” thing. Mindful breathing is what helps us calm our fears, find our courage, and continue with the strange and wonderful business of being talking monkeys on a floating rock spiraling through infinite space. From the heart, Sifu Anthony