The practice really does work one breath at a time. This is something I doubted before having a baby and getting my meditation routine utterly annihilated. I haven’t sat for more than five minutes straight since she was born over a month ago — and certainly not in any pattern for two days in a row — but my practice feels weirdly intact.
What am I doing right?
Certainly, I’m bringing mindfulness to all my interactions with her, especially when she needs something. I find it pretty much impossible to think about something else while changing a diaper, and that’s great for meditation.
But I’m also taking a minute here, a minute there, just to come back to the breath like every meditation teacher I’ve ever had has suggested. Funnily enough, I think I might skip over that part of the practice when I have a dedicated daily time for sitting. I think I might tell myself I’ve already meditated today, so I don’t need to do it again.
Clearly, that’s the wrong call, even if I’m only making it subconsciously. Now that I’m giving myself that gift of mindful breathing throughout the day (and in the middle of the night), I’m starting to think this might be the most fundamental part of meditation practice.
In seated meditation, we gradually learn that it’s fine for the mind to wander off occasionally. That’s just what minds do. The practice — the part that trains our strength as meditators — is the repeated effort of guiding our attention back. Coming back to the breath in moments of pause has exactly the same effect.
I’m sleep-deprived, I’m disoriented, I’m not taking the best care of my body right now. You know, baby stuff. Yet I’ve never been more sure that meditation is helping me get along.