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The Greatest Gift

"Joy and happiness become real through mindfulness of the breath."

Thich Nhat Hanh

What if the breath you're taking right now is the greatest gift you've ever been given? Though we may believe that there are more important gifts that can be bestowed upon us in our life - perhaps a better job, a more satisfying relationship or even winning the lottery - all we have to remember is that without the breath, our life would be over very quickly. When we begin to actually pay attention to our breathing, we immediately begin to notice the profound shift it has on our state of awareness. Taking a refreshing breath relaxes the body and calms the mind, and it also brings us back to the present moment.

This is why almost all spiritual teachers continually encourage us to come home to our breathing.

We might notice that, when we are lost in the thoughts in our head - usually obsessing about what that might occur in the future or something that happened in the past - we are totally unaware of our breath, and thus what is actually taking place right here and now. It's as if we are zombies; sleep-

walking through the events of our lives, completely unaware of what is right in front of our eyes. Yet, quite miraculously, the moment we turn our attention to even one mindful breath - voila! - we wake up again to the miracle of the here and now. Not only that, we tend to forget, at least for a moment, whatever it was we were so worried or concerned about.

A very transforming practice is to begin to look upon our breath, not only as the greatest gift we are given (and the anchor to the present moment), but also as pure joy. Take a moment right now and try it for yourself. Close your eyes and feel your breath flowing into your body, filling your heart and saturating every cell with joy and light. As you breath out, radiate this joy and light around you like the rays of the sun. As you begin to appreciate your breath, you will probably notice that you begin to really appreciate your life, because breath is Life itself. As you do this practice more and more, you will begin to see for yourself that the breath, simple as it may be, is the most powerful and wonderful gift that you have been given, a gift that not only keeps the body alive, but doesn't cost a thing, and has the power to wake you up to the joy that is available in every here and now moment.

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