One Less Breath

I’m just getting out of our Team morning meditation and I gave a little talk afterwards. I talked about a book I’m currently reading, Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader by Marc Lesser, and the author talks about a meditation practice he teaches called “One Less Breath”.

He asks that we consider that each breath we take is one less breath from a finite number of breaths we have in our lives. We don’t know how many more we have. And to remind us to be present for the breath we are taking at this moment because it is the moment and breath you have right now.

I told the group that I was reflecting about this as we were meditating thinking about being present in each breath and recognizing when I am not present and mindlessly going throughout a day.

I asked that we think about expanding that to the breaths we experience with the people we love. Are we present for each of the breaths we hear or feel on us from the people we love? My colleague just had a baby. Is he treasuring each of the precious breaths he is blessed to hear and feel when he’s holding his tiny one? Are we each respecting and appreciating the uniqueness of each of the breaths we feel when a loved one is near us?

This morning in a random moment of silence when driving my nephews to school, I found their breaths. I was uniquely present in that moment treasuring that I could connect and be present for it for as long as I could. On weekends, if we get to sleep in, I love being awake and experiencing my wife with her face smashed into mine as she snoozes in the dawn. I love feeling her breath on my neck. The cadence of her body performing the basic and magical act of taking in life maintaining oxygen. I am grateful to be present for each of those breaths that I am mindfully get to experience.

Are you fully present for each of the breaths you are taking? Are you mindlessly going throughout your busy and cluttered day and reaching the end of it wondering “What happened to this day?” Do you live in the precious moments of your children, partner, and other loved ones and seek every opportunity to connect with the uniqueness of each of their breaths? Do you realize that is what they seek above all else? That connection to you.

Do you get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life that you lose sight of life itself? Are you connected to to the life you are living? Are you connected to your own body? Are you connected to the space that you are occupying? Are you connected to the world and to the beauty of nature and the life it produces for you? Are you connected to those who love you and who you love? Is there any there there?

What are you connected to?

Often times it’s your phone because we’re seeking to be distracted from whatever is going on – trying to live in the phony reality our phones and other garbage distractions take us to, but it takes you away from the breath you just took.

One less breath you took in however many you have in your life. It takes you away from the last breaths the people you love just took. One less breath you will have the privilege to have experienced, and you missed it.

Meditating is not to clear you head. It is to sit and recognize that our heads are unclear. That they are full of junk, that they are cluttered, and that they seek to be distracted. Meditating is the exercise – the resistance training – that allows you to recognize your thoughts and having the strength to pull your awareness back to this one breath you are taking right now.

One less breath