Claude Monet, 1907.
I must admit: prior to owning an Apple Watch – I’ve only attempted meditation once. I used the Headspace app for nine days in a row, and then I gave up.
It wasn’t that meditation isn’t a great habit to cultivate, it is. I just didn’t know what the entire point of it was. In fact, I probably still do not know.
There’s a Breathe app on the watch itself that vibrates while giving commands to inhale and exhale. The length of each breath and the time to breathe can be manually adjusted. The watch also measures one’s heart rate during each session. I figured that there would be absolutely no harm done to sit still and truly just focus on breathing. Five separate intervals per day, one minute each: it’s a mere 300 seconds of my time. I’ve wasted much more on frivolous and occasionally, (psychological, and well, physical, by drinking too much at times and in the far past – having a troubled relationship with food) self-harming activities.
It was a continuous yet simple gesture. I didn’t put much thought to it at first, but then eventually as the habit crept in, I started craving for that minute of breath.
I would’ve dismissed active breathing as something silly at the beginning – after all, we’re trained to do it unconsciously so we stay alive. We take shorter and more frequent breaths during vigorous exercises, and longer ones when we are in a relaxed state. It’s never an action that most people need to think about doing, because a lot of us just do unless we’re reminded of it during that instant.
When I started getting used to my daily ritual, I find myself not only wanting, but needing this minute of silence and intent to breathe in times of higher stress and anxiety.
Maybe I’m starting to get “it”, the purpose of meditation and mindfulness – even if it is only a little bit.
Claude Monet, 1905.
I used to have the perception that meditation is supposed to cast some sort of enlightenment and / or “higher purpose” in one’s life. It’d just be that one random day where suddenly the internal light bulb gets switched on. From then on, that person will be living his / her life with more of a direction and purpose.
That was a misconception.
I’m sure amazing realizations do occur in the midst of meditation though, don’t get me wrong, but they definitely didn’t happen to me. Nothing inspiring latched and clicked for me.
However, I’ve noticed that having tunnel vision on the mundane act of breathing assists, or rather, forces me to slow down as the minute counts down.
I’ve written about how it’s dangerous to stay stagnant in life, so it might seem a bit contradictory for me to praise certain pauses. It’s not the same though. I know, I know. Nothing is the same when we’re the ones making a point. I do believe there’s a difference though.
Being mindful of my breaths is an instant reminder of how I am present and truly here, wherever “here” is at that exact moment, and alive.
This knowledge brings me a transparent and inexplicable sense of extreme calm.
The combination of mindfulness and heightened vigilance for one specific action that is happening now somehow wraps me up with a simple yet unique sense of serenity. None of the past, present, and future fireworks or fuck ups or plateaus in my life matter at all when my only pivotal point is to just inhale and exhale for that minute. The fundamental gestures are so much louder than words as they prove that you are alive at this instant. In fact, we are so used to doing these under our subconsciousness that we forget to go back to basics at times.
It’s fucking magnificent if you think about it.
Every single breath you take, whether or not you are placing any attention on that particular one at that moment, is an extremely obvious, yet commonly overlooked gesture of being alive.
It’s similar to the mundane secrets that I appreciate, which are the unintentional hidden stories and details that were never inquired about because they seem so minuscule compared to the “greater scope”.
Who’s to say there should be more significance placed on grandiose?
We’re all somehow aware and up to date with the all of the breaking news out there, we forget the bases and garnishes that build up and surround us.
The simple awareness of living and being active in the present is a beautiful possession. You might not emotionally or physically be okay right now (friendly note: you are allowed to feel like absolute shit without any guilt or remorse from time to time). The point here isn’t focusing on the fleeting feelings, but to be sharp about the state of mind right now.
You are here, breathing, living, and as long as that essential line isn’t broken yet, you are here. Despite the unfortunate events, the lows and downs and the occasional ups, you are wherever you need to be now – whether you believe that or not.
You are okay, you will feel okay even though you might not be at this precise moment – try your best to pause now and focus on the cores and fundamentals.
Remind yourself that even though you may feel dead inside, you are still alive – you are still able to function, perhaps not without pain, yet you can open your eyes, you can navigate, communicate, consume, create, and engage. A lot of the actions are done without much thought to them, but sometimes it’s more than necessary to refer back to the building blocks that we all need for even the most basic level of survival.
It’s worth mentioning that the awareness of being alive despite whatever state you are at now currently invokes a sense of calmness and security.
That is what breathing (and perhaps my “pseudo” meditation) has taught me – that is that I’m here right now, alive today, and I’m okay. This is one of the few facts that I need to know before the start of another brand new day.