When I was 10, my parents were in the middle of a nasty divorce. One morning, I woke up and my chest hurt. I struggled to breathe. I told my dad “I need to go to the hospital…my chest hurts”. I thought I was having a heart attack. I started walking to his car. I may have even grabbed his keys. He put his arm around me and gently walked me back into the house. He had me lay down and he put his hand on my stomach and said “breathe”…My breath pushed his hand up and down and he had me only focus on that. It probably took less than a minute, but the pain went away and I was o.k. I had had a panic attack. My dad taught me what is now called “Mindfulness” in that moment.
I’ve used that breathing technique through moving to Australia…seven months pregnant, job change, losing my best friend to life-saving surgery that failed, birthing three babies without pain medication or an epidural, before tests, before flute performances in Europe, NY’s Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House… through a horrific accident in Africa. I’ve had moments when I’ve thought ending it would be so much easier. But I didn’t because, I knew how to find my breath. That breathing gives the brain enough time to hear “this is not the end” and all the latest research shows the calming effect it has on the nervous system.
Life today is full. So full that we barely have time to even notice if we take a breath in a day.
You might say “I don’t have time for mindfulness.”
I say “you don’t have time not to.”
You might say “kids won’t sit still for it.” Well, last year, in a single session, we had a record 73 middle school kids voluntarily come for Mindfulness.
Mindfulness has been proven to improve concentration, reduce stress, improve test scores and reduce bullying.
And? It’s just breathing.