Just back from an “intermission,” a much needed break from work and my regular routine. It felt richly luxurious to have spent four days and three nights in a cabin by a river with just me and my two dogs and my 40 million thoughts.
Serendipitously, I brought along Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds on a recommendation from a very balanced friend. Maisel points out that our habitual shallow breathing (generally 2-3 seconds in duration) is a defense against knowing our own thoughts:
Exactly because it is natural and automatic, a breath of this length does nothing to interrupt your mind chatter, alter your sense of a given situation, or support change. When you consciously decide to breathe more slowly and deeply, you alert your body to the fact that you want it to behave differently. You are not just changing your breathing pattern, you are making a a full-body announcement that you are entering into a different relationship with your mind and your body.
The long deep breath is like pressing the reset button on my laptop; a break in the action; a literal re-set back to center.
Lesson One of Yogi Parenting is on centering. And the first question Michaela proposes is: have you met your physical needs this week? In the Discussion Group, I share how four days of listening primarily to my physical needs and consciously reducing my mental chatter has shifted my parenting. What came to me is that although lovely (and by all means take it if you can) a 4-day retreat into solitude is not a prerequisite for a centered state of mind. In fact, according to Maisel, all you need is ten seconds coupled with one deep breath.