Breathe and Be


“Breathe and be and stay focused on this second.” I find myself saying those words repeatedly in the guided meditation group I facilitate on Saturday mornings. Folks with no or much experience meditating convene to sit for forty-five minutes. I speak a few words as they come to mind for the purpose of directing our attention.


Paying attention to what is each second challenges our jumpy minds. Learning to simply be in the Observer while practicing detachment invites an alert passivity. It’s like watching a movie. We sit, we breathe, we notice our breath, our thoughts, our feelings, and we sit and we breathe. When we watch a movie we don’t jump onto the screen. We stay in our seat and just notice what unfolds. We may like the action or not. It doesn’t matter; we just watch.


Likewise, in meditation we notice our thoughts and feelings but we maintain our detachment. We don’t start thinking or identify with our feelings. We breathe and watch and stay in our Observer. Learning detachment allows us to identify with the Observer, a part of ourselves deeper than our thoughts and feelings.


Newcomers to meditation often struggle with their inner world chaos. “I can’t meditate; my mind is too busy.” “That’s exactly why we meditate,” I respond. Meditation isn’t quieting the mind. It’s having a different relationship to it—one in which we look at our thoughts instead of identifying with them. The same with feelings—we notice them while we experience them. Our Observer maintains its detachment and watches the whole show from a bit of a distance.


Sometimes I use the image of the Observer looking through a window. On the Observer side of the window, the breath comes and goes naturally as though the breath is breathing us. We be, we notice, and we allow.  On the other side of the window, thoughts and feelings move. Staying on the Observer side of the window, we can look at them without being caught up in thinking or feeling.  We notice the anger or the frustration or the joy or the excitement or the worries or the plans or the memories and we allow them to pass. We don’t attach to anything.


When we identify with the Observer part of us, we notice our Critic (on the other side of the window) through the angry self condemnations. We notice our Controller with its should. And always we notice our hurt Child. We notice everything and we allow. We practice allowing in meditation by staying in the Observer, breathing, being, noticing, and releasing.


“I want to do something. I don’t like these feelings!” Another thought to notice.  Only by noticing and allowing do we experience healing. We allow without resistance and, thereby, we cooperate with Life. Our minds are not required to heal; surrender and trust are. When we practice surrender and trust we operate in partnership with Life. Life always wants to bring us to healing. We allow healing in meditation.



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