Three Breaths at a Time: On the Spot Practices for Life

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by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC

Now that we’ve established a daily meditation practice (or even if we haven’t), we’ve built a reservoir on which we can draw at any moment when we feel like we need it.

One practice I like a lot during the day when I start to get stressed out or upset about something is the practice of three breaths.  We can just close our eyes, and take three meditative breaths, then go from there.  On the spot meditation.  

Or, if there’s stronger emotional energy, we can use the same method we talked about earlier (in “Our Self-Healing, Self-Rejuvenating Mind”) where instead of going with our narratives we find the raw feeling in our bodies with curiosity and care, and just breathe with it as if we’re massaging a knot in a muscle, in this case, with our breath.

Another practice we can use is to connect with the elements.  We can step outside the office for a second, or even look out a window, and gaze into the sky.  We can listen to the sounds of nature, and feel the earth beneath us.  We can even lay down on the ground for a few minutes and rest this way.  We can let the wind and our breath carry away whatever is on our minds, and the warmth of the sun care for what we feel.  

We can also practice a walking meditation, where instead of using our breathing as our primary support for meditation, we use our footsteps.  We can just pace back and forth like this, and it can be a low-key, calming, centering way to meditate in between activities at work.  Before I was a monk, I taught music and performed professionally, and I use to do this in between teaching lessons in schools or on set breaks from gigs.  

If we have a long lunch break (and honestly it doesn’t seem like many do these days), or a commute that can happen on foot, a nice and easy walk outside can also help.

It also doesn’t have to be only at difficult moments when we pause to practice.  It can be absolutely anytime we want to come home to ourselves, our peace, our presence, our love, and go from there.  

In any case, it’s amazing the impact just three breaths can have sometimes.  Especially before hitting “send”.  Or for that matter, before opening the inbox.  Or when we get home and turn the car off, to help us really arrive home.  

These little “gaps” in life can go such a long way. 

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About the Author:  Loden Nyima

Gelong Loden Nyima is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. He lived at Gampo Abbey from 2009 – 2017 where he practiced intensively, completed Shedra studies, and served in various roles including as a Shastri. He now lives at Drala Mountain Center where he serves as Resident Teacher and a founding faculty member for the Summer Seminar and other programs. He spends a portion of each year in retreat, frequently travels to continue his own dharma education, and can often be seen jogging around the land at DMC.

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