The truth is––not by way of excuse, but on the topic of self-compassion––that I had a bit of a breakdown. Some challenges at work got the better of me for a day or two, and I found myself not particularly inspired to spread compassion through the world. You may remember that this has happened to me once or twice before (!). Fortunately, I have lots of tools to bring myself back to this present moment. Isn't it funny how when we're wrapped up in our own problems and our own drama, that we often forget our ability to make a difference for others?
There I was, worrying about my own problems, getting stuck in my own dialogue with the little voice in my head, and not making a difference for anyone:
No, I don't!
You totally suck! Loser!
Meanwhile, as that's going on, two million children a year are dying from diarrhea. More than five thousand kids each day. So while I'm wrapped up in my drama, I'm not doing anything to make a difference for them, or for anyone else. The very inspiring life coach Matthew Ferry reminds us that the easiest way to forget our own problems is to focus on being of service to others.
Matthew often talks about the "Contribution Game," in which we look at every action we take through the lens of "how is this a contribution to others?" Matthew says that the more we contribute to others, the more that the things we want will come to us. A man after my own heart.
And in the spirit of contribution, I'm here, now, and remembering to breathe mindfully.
From the Plum Village website:
The breath is always with us, and just stopping for a moment to be aware of it can make all the difference in the world. Thich Nhat Hanh offers that we might like to say to ourselves, as we breathe:
"Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. Regardless of our internal weather- our thoughts, emotions and perceptions- our breathing is always with us like a faithful friend. Whenever we feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind.
We feel the flow of air coming in and going out of our nose. We feel how light and natural, how calm and peaceful our breathing functions. At any time, while we are walking, gardening, or typing, we can return to this peaceful source of life."
"Breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in.Okay, so I'm getting a little serious again. As the little Chogyam Trungpa sign on my desk says, "Cheer up." So on that note, I'd like to note a little bit of contribution from the music world. Music can affect us so powerfully without us even knowing it! Listening to this track from the ridiculous duo Das Racist, I can't help but smile. And perhaps there's a lesson here...
Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out."
Is it possible that they're teaching us to simply be aware of the present moment? If I were, in fact, at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and I stopped, breathing mindfully, and said to myself, I'm at the Pizza Hut, I'm at the Taco Bell, I'm at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, would that not itself be a reminder of the amazing miracle of life? The pizza/taco scent in the air, the hard ground beneath my feet? As the Village Voice recently said, "It is either very, very meaningful or completely meaningless. Put it on repeat while you think it over."
Jokes aside, consider the amazing nature of the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. It's a meditation on interdependence! As we listen to this song, we can contemplate so many different things... the farmers who provided the tomatoes and lettuce for our Seven Layer Burrito, the fuel that came from the earth to transport everything to the restaurant, the kid at the register––his parents, his grandparents, what he ate that day, the teachers who've educated him, the sun in the sky, the air we breathe. This can go on infinitely! What a great gift Das Racist have given us, to remember to be in the present moment, and to appreciate the miracle of the world we live in. *