The Key to Personal Development and Stress Reduction (And Maybe Even World Peace)
Wherever you are right now, stop everything (this is important). Take just a moment and sit back in your seat. Now, put your hands on your abdomen with your fingertips barely touching. On your next inhale separate your fingertips by breathing deeply and slowly into your belly, allowing your breath to push them apart. Then exhale slowly so that your fingertips come back together. When you’ve finished, try it again.
There. That’s the key to unlocking the door to your own growth and evolvement, to managing and actually reducing the stress in your life, and to setting in motion a small but resounding ripple in the betterment of the world.
Sound ridiculous? Are you wondering how one deep breath can claim to accomplish so much? The answer lies not in the biological functioning of the breath, but in its ability to focus attention, to bring mind and body into sync and release the present from concerns over the past or future. And when this happens time and space is created for deepening self-knowledge and awareness, which in turn leads to more purposeful, engaged, and inspired living.
Sitting quietly for five, ten, twenty minutes a day, following your breath, is a good way to begin creating a personal practice of what is called mindfulness. In todays speed-of-light world, its common to feel scattered for the mind to be thinking about one thing, while the heart reaches toward another, and the body hangs out in the space-time continuum. Mindfulness is about bringing all these aspects of the self together. It’s about becoming fully and deeply present, aware of each passing moment. And the simplest, easiest, and best place to begin is the breath.
Though it won’t stop there. When you become intentional in the practice of being mindful a deeper process will be triggered. The ability to focus on your own inner experience and to become fully present will begin to flow into every aspect of your life into your words, and thoughts and actions into your relationships and work and personal endeavors. You will wake and realize that you are, maybe for the first time, experiencing the moments of your existence.
But how does that transfer to saving the world?
Peace, and all roads that lead to it and from it, begin with the individual. Peaceful individuals create peaceful homes, create peaceful communities, create peaceful nations, create a peaceful world.
To truly make progress in your own growth and development to make the deepest impact possible on the state of the planet, begin with yourself. Learn the art of mindfulness. Devote 5, 10 or 20 minutes a day to practicing presence. Take time each day to show up fully. Get to know yourself. Create your own personal practice. It can include anything that stills the mind, quiets the heart, calms the spirit, inspires the soul breathing, meditation, walking, prayer, dance, art, journaling the purpose is to take time to be in this world of doing, to bring peace to yourself so that when you venture into the world you carry it with you like a lantern you pass on to others.
So take another moment, another breath. But this time, breathe like you mean it. It is the key to your own growth, and just may be the key to the healing of the world.