Today let me offer the ABCs of how to live a healthy, vibrant life. These ABCs apply to every area of our life, at home, at work, at play.
The first letter, A, stands for Awareness. My teacher in India, Sri Bhagavan, often said, “First step awareness, last step awareness.” What did he mean by this? I can only guess, but to me it means that awareness is key for our journey. When we are aware, we are present. When we are present, we are effective, alive, here, now. When we are aware, we notice what is going on. We listen to our body. We know what foods to eat. We are good listeners and therefore good friends. We are tuned in to the messages of our emotions and our body, and we live more effective lives as a result. We notice what works and what does not work. We do not space out or miss the present moment. We learn and grow and make the same mistakes less often. So, awareness is key.
The second letter, B, stands for breath. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. There is an epidemic of shallow breathing in our world. With shallow breathing, we can bet there is fear involved. Breathing deeply we feel deeply and we heal more deeply. At the most basic level, we need obviously need breath to live. We are saying yes to life. Shallow breathing is like saying, yes I kinda want to live, but only half alive. Breath is also the bridge between body and spirit. When we are aware of our breath, we are present. Breath connects us not only to life in this world, but to the unseen world from where we come, the spirit world. That is why the word for breath is also the same as for spirit in many languages.
So, on a physical as well as energy level, when we breathe deeply, we are not only bringing in more oxygen and nutrients on the inbreath, but we are releasing and detoxifying on every outbreath. As a yoga teacher, I find that the single most important thing one can do to create a profound yoga experience is the connect the movement to the breath. Again, when we do this, we are present, and when we are present, in this case doing yoga, we first of all do not hurt ourselves, and second, we receive the full benefits of the yoga experience, bringing energy in with every in breath, and releasing toxins with every outbreath.
The last letter is C, and this stands for compassion. There is another epidemic, that of guilt and low self esteem. Compassion is the balm that heals our inner and outer world. Compassion is the opposite of judgment, which constricts, contracts, hurts. Compassion is the lubricant for our life and also for this Earth shift we are moving through, from war and competition to cooperation and compassion.
When you combine these three letters or words, ABC, Awareness, Breath and Compassion, we have presence. Or to reverse this, we could say that when we are present, these three things are automatic. Presence includes awareness, conscious breathing and compassion, because these are aspects of the Divine, our essential nature. Our true self does not have to try to be present or to be aware or to breathe fully or to be compassionate. We are life. We are love. We are present and joyful and compassionate. We have only been fooled and convinced that we are something else. We have been taught that we have to earn these things and our quest has us distracting and striving and competing, when all we need to do is pay attention, be aware, breathe fully, and allow the natural expression of our loving and compassionate true self.