I have been disoriented by my recent travels. I’m fatigued and loopy in the head no matter how much sleep I get. I’m making a lot of mistakes. I feel off. As we head into the mentally challenging winter season of ever-decreasing daylight, I really need to re-find my center.

In a conscious effort to get back to a mindfulness routine, I created a little calendar with slots for daily activities like meditation, power walks, creativity, yoga, etc.. I did a pretty good job of completing each of those activities several times last week. It was a good exercise, but it didn’t really change how I felt. It became clear to me that it’s not the activity that’s important, it’s my attitude. It’s the quality of my vibration that makes a difference.

At a recent Sufi retreat, the teacher and spiritual guide Pir Shabda Kahn spoke about the importance of breath. He encouraged everyone to “swing the breath.” Swinging the breath starts with breath awareness, and then expands that into a rhythmic pattern of equally long in and out breaths, swinging back and forth like pendulum.

Pir Shabda encouraged us to swing the breath 24/7. Not just on our cushion during meditation, but all day every day. Breath awareness and swinging the breath brings us into the immediate present. It brings us into our body and relaxes tension. It relaxes our brain waves to resemble those we experience during sleep or meditation. It is calming and centering.

I’ve been practicing this. When I walk, I measure my steps with my breath (usually 3-4 steps during each in and out breath). During the day, whatever I’m doing, I stop and measure my breath. I elongate and swing each in and out breath. Through this practice I am gradually coming back to my body, my presence, the present. It feels like living in prayer.

Every breath, a prayer.
Every choice, a prayer.
Every day, a prayer.