Excerpted from the September 2015 issue of Shambhala Sun:
Three Conscious Breaths
Pema Chödrön teaches us a simple technique we can use anytime we need a break from our habitual patterns.
Our habits are strong, so a certain discipline is required to step outside our cocoon and receive the magic of our surroundings. Pause practice– taking three conscious breaths at any moment when we notice that we are stuck– is a simple but powerful practice that each of us can do at any given moment.
Pause practice can transform each day of your life. It creates an open doorway to the sacredness of the place in which you find yourself. The vastness, stillness, and magic of the place will dawn upon you, if you let your mind relax and drop for just a few breaths the story line you are working so hard to maintain. If you pause just long enough, you can reconnect with exactly where you are, with the immediacy of your experience.
When you are waking up in the morning and you aren’t even out of bed yet, even if you are running late, you could just look out and drop the story line and take three conscious breaths. Just be where you are! When you are washing up, or making your coffee or tea, or brushing your teeth, just create a gap in your discursive mind. Take three conscious breaths. Just pause. Let it be a contrast to being all caught up. Let it be like popping a bubble. Let it be just a moment in time, and then go on.
Maybe you are on your way to whatever you need to do for the day. You are in your car, or on the bus, or standing in line. But you can still create that gap by taking three conscious breaths and being right there with the immediacy of your experience, right there with whatever you are seeing, with whatever you are doing, with whatever you are feeling.