April 24, 2020
Hello, East Side Middle -
Next Thursday, April 30, ESMS will hold a virtual Town Hall at 6:30pm. Ms. Hyman and I are eager to check in with all of you; your PTA Board will also give some important updates. Details are still being worked out, but I plan to send out an invitation and link early next week. To streamline the event, I would appreciate receiving as many questions as possible in advance - you may begin submitting them here any time.
I hope some of you will also join other ESMS parents and me for a virtual Book Club on Wednesday, April 29 at 6:30pm. The book is Belonging (Nora Krug).
If you are interested in attending, be sure to email Beth Servetar by noon on the 29th, so we can send you the link.
Today's mindfulness exercise from Dr. Michele Galietta, is below. Have a good day and a restful weekend.
* * * * * * * * *
Breath is Always Available
Today, I would like to share with you some information about mindfulness in Thich Nah Hanh's own words. He describes mindfulness as, "the energy that helps us to recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives." He goes on, "You don't have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life." He notes that we often live in a state of forgetfulness--being here, but not really here...having divided attention. He says, "You are caught in the past or the future." But he teaches us that when we ruminate on things we regret or get stuck in fears or anxiety about the future, we can return to the present instantly through our breath that is always here for us. There is some degree of happiness in breathing in oxygen and just knowing we are alive. Through connecting to our body, our mind, and our surroundings, we can draw on the energy of mindfulness for whatever we need. Thich Nhat Hahn has said that our breath is always available...it is always there for us to take refuge in.
Breathing is the great equalizer, it costs nothing. Moments of peace and even joy are possible in good times, as well as in times of pain. In fact, we are often more aware of acts of kindness that bring us joy or relief when we are suffering. I remember a time in my life during graduate school when I lived in an apartment that was very tiny; it was above a bar in the South Bronx. Walking from the train to my apartment was scary as indeed I had been robbed once trying to get home from the library. I had run out of my student loans, owed my landlords (who were nice enough not to throw me out until my next loan check arrived.) I was living alone and I was lonely and feeling overworked. A friend of mine sent me a package containing a fashion magazine, a funny card, a clay face mask, and a large bar of chocolate. That evening, when I read the magazine and ate that chocolate was pure joy...relief in a sea of difficult tasks.
If we reflect on these teachings, we need to ask ourselves how many times we have said, I will be happy when this is over or when I have done this or that, or I will relax if I have time at the end of the day. Breathing takes no more time. Today's practice involves finding your happiness now because it is always available. Through breathing in oxygen, filling our lungs to capacity, and breathing out, we know we are alive. We know our lungs and our bodies are functioning. By connecting to something beautiful, even if only for one second...to stop and notice it, we know happiness...
Practice: First, fast forward past the ads so that when you click the link below, you will begin with nature sounds. Adjust your volume to a soft background so that sounds are not overwhelming. Breath is the primary focus of this practice.
Now, stretch your back. Curve forward hunching our back, then breathe and sit tall, ready to begin...
Click here: youtube.com/watch?v=Znyj6UBjz0A
Focus your attention simply on the sensation of your breath coming in through your nose, filling your lungs, cresting, and then leaving your body on the exhale. If you like, you can silently say to yourself, breathing in: I know I am alive and breathing out: I am content. Continue until the clip ends.
Now, you might want to make a commitment to yourself to breathe deeply today whenever you are worried or struggling or stressed. Commit to allowing in the moments of refuge provided by a single breath. I'm also 100% in favor of mindfulness to chocolate to bring joy, so if that's available to you as well...enjoy!
Have a peaceful day.