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Phuket, Thailand at Sunset

This morning at a meeting about meditation, the leader, a teacher assigned to a sixth grade special education class, asked this question – “Where do you find your island of peace amidst angry students hurling desks and computers?” Wow! After a prayer of gratitude that I was not in such a challenging job, I thought about the question. I shared that “my breath” was my true island of peace. No matter what is happening around me or within me, my breath is available to me every moment as long as I am alive. If I am disturbed by any person, place or thing, I have the capacity to put my hand on my chest or tummy and feel the breath coming into my body, going out. I can calm my body and mind very quickly by simply becoming aware of my breath. Perhaps even one mindful breath would be useful before reacting to the angry students. This island within myself is so accessible, anytime, anywhere, and needs no outside tools (music, airlines, other people) to be present to me.

I also have a friend who suffered trauma from being on a breathing machine for many months and is having to relearn that she is able to breathe on her own without hearing the machine in her mind. Becoming aware of her breath used to be scary, a reminder of the trauma of paralysis. So she avoided silence, meditation and being alone. But slowly, with assistance, she is learning again to become consciously aware of her breathing as an island of peace.

Of course, a beautiful sunset in Phuket can also help us find the beauty within our own breath.

Photo by Ali Catterall

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