It was just one of those days. Nothing was going terribly wrong, but I just felt “off.” Work seemed unnecessarily busy as I herded myself from one meeting to the next and emails flew into my inbox faster than I could say, “Is it time for lunch?” At the end of the day, I was feeling a little tired, a little agitated, a little disconnected, a little bit of everything.
I decided that I would cocoon myself in the house that night and nurture my mood with a (healthy) dose of Netflix and comfort food. So after work, I headed out to grab a few (unhealthy) items: Wine, chocolate, and mac ‘n cheese – because that’s how I roll.
Items in hand, I paced between the two checkout lines, shrewdly gauging which one would be faster. I was eager to hop into my extremely comfortable flannel PJ’s and expedite the night’s festivities. Finally, I doubled back for the third time, resigned to the fact that I would be waiting regardless of line choice.
Apparently, my indecision did not go unnoticed, as I heard a man’s hearty laugh. I turned to see the smiling stranger step in line behind me. He shrugs, “What’s three minutes?”
My rational brain kicked in: Well… the time it takes me to toast a frozen breakfast waffle or burn a pot of water. The time it takes for me to forget what I walked into the kitchen for and the space of time between making the 5pm commuter train and missing it. Three minutes could mean a lot…
But, he did have a point.
It’s really not much in the scheme of things. In three minutes, my couch would still be there, waiting patiently for my return and my stomach will not have eaten itself from the inside.
As I’m processing this, he drops another morsel of wisdom: “Life is good. Isn’t it?”
The man then took an exaggerated inhale, “It just gives us another moment to breathe.” Right on cue, and completely involuntary, my chest filled with air as I obediently took his advice.
Dammit. He was right.
Take a breath.
It sounds so simple and we hear it all the time, “Just Breathe.” But, it is a powerful tool at your fingertips. The breath has the ability to move things through the body and allows us to let go of the emotions or thoughts that don’t serve us.
In a few short moments, my petty grievances about my day seemed irrelevant and my frustration diminished. With a few short breaths, my perspective transformed.
That man, with his warm smile and tangible zest for life, offered me that reminder. I didn’t need to be in a place of zen or a quiet location. I could find a moment of calm while I was waiting to purchase my delicious-but-not-so-nutritious items.
And, yes, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of three solid minutes, but we can find 30 seconds. 30 seconds to re-center ourselves, to let go of the stresses at work that we cannot control, and to just breathe.
How will you find 30 seconds today?
It could be on the elevator ride up to your floor or the space between door chimes on the subway. You might find it in the moments that your waiting for your computer to whir to life or even by taking an extended trip to the restroom stall. Close your eyes, take a deep inhale through your nose, and exhale quietly out of your mouth. Repeat as necessary. And if you need a little guidance, my friend Eddie Vedder will guide you through a beautiful breath between 1:02 – 1:05. Seriously, try NOT to take a deep breath during that musical pause. Ahhhhhhhhh.