Learning to Breathe

A review

Lately life has been hectic and fast-paced between work, friends, and my hobbies. I’m blessed beyond all reckoning to have the friends, and the ability (read: resources) to take part in so many activities, fun things, and expensive hobbies. All those gardening tools and Keto equipment isn’t cheap. The meme says “I’m too blessed to be stressed” but really? Stress is causing my blood pressure to edge up.

I was glad to hear one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Fulwiler, recommend this book: “A Little Bit of Mindfulness: An Introduction to Being Present.” This is SO HARD to do in our society of fragmented attention spans. Either I’m forced to juggle online meetings, emails and Teams messages at work, or I’m out with friends and we’re head down in iPhones as we chat. Either way – it’s not good. I was definitely interested in what author Amy Leigh Mercree had to say.

Quick and easy

The book was a quick, short read – only 128 pages. I finished it in a day. The author spends the first seven chapters on the history and science of mindfulness, and general techniques you can use to breathe properly and to watch your thoughts as an outside observer. My favorite parts of the book were the chapters “Quieting the Chemical Symphony” and “Watching the Inner Show.” One technique that I am going to try soon is “mindful eating.” So many times, I’ve rushed through a meal, in order to get back to work, or I’ve read a book while eating. That has to stop. Eating can be a meditation if done mindfully!

The last chapter contains eight mindfulness meditations that are based on Eastern meditation. This part I skipped through, because, as the author is a practitioner of Eastern meditation, she wrote two of the exercises include prayers to Hindu and other deities. That didn’t interest me except in an academic sense. As a practicing Christian I don’t fancy praying to Shiva or Aphrodite. Another thing that bothered me was her statement that “Hinduism is widely known as the oldest religion in the world” dating it to the ancient Vedic traditions from around 1500-600 B.C. The Hebrew patriarchs date back just a little farther than that, to early second millenium BC, per

Mercree has a series of short books that all start with the title: “A Little Bit of …” The other books in the series cover Intuition, Chakras, and Dreams. I just looked at the cover again – the subtitle is “An Introduction to Spirit Guidance.” I’m glad that was in such small print that I skipped it – I may have been put off on the book.

Techniques to try

There was still plenty to take away. In addition to eating mindfully, there were wonderful exercises for walking mindfully, watching your breath and practicing mindfulness by observing your thoughts. I know I’ll be trying all of these out. I’ve even started by putting my phone headphones away on my morning walk. I’m being in the moment – listening to the birds, watching my dog as he sniffs everything, and relaxing into the rhythm of the walk.

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