I got lost on the way to work a couple days ago. Not lost lost, as in I had no idea where I was, but lost as in I was day-dreaming so deeply I lost track of where I was. When I remembered I was driving it took a little while to determine if I had driven past work already and where exactly I was.
This has happened before, so that event was nothing new. But, interestingly enough, I’m currently reading “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a book which directly relates to this type of experience. He describes several exercises you can do to increase mindfulness – a method of being aware of, and totally in, the moment. All of them involve watching the breath.
He recommends practicing mindfulness all the time. When you are washing dishes you are washing dishes, not thinking about anything else. When you are drinking tea you are drinking tea and nothing else, etc. So I’ve been trying this a little bit, and watching the breath at the same time.
Another mindfulness technique (the one I like best so far) is counting your breaths. Slowly inhale left and exhale right, inhale right and exhale left. That’s one round. Do that again for round 2, etc. until you get to 10 rounds, then count back down. Go really slow, be mindful, and don’t think about anything but the breath. If you lose count start over. Follow the breath with your mind as you inhale and exhale.
I modified it slightly for myself because my breaths are slow and it takes forever, so I count up to 5 and back down for a total of 9 rounds. Maybe that’s missing the point or cheating somehow, but it’s better to practice than not practice so it works for me.
It’s a different form of pranayama than what I’m used to where you count the length of your inhales, retention, and exhales, with emphasis on the exhales.
After a minimum of practice I can already see how the mind will benefit from these exercises. I’ll be a better yogi and I won’t get lost on the way to work 😉 . Best of all, and more importantly, they can give you a calming experience, keep you in the now with less stress and worry, and give you some serious mind control ability.