Breathe!

By Helen Welde Doyle

As a mother of three sons, my life seems to be a neverending roller coaster. Daily, I try to stay in the present and be the calm force in our challenging times, but it is incredibly easy to get off track. When a colleague told me she started the day in meditation and encouraged me to try it, I laughed heartily. Obviously, she forgot that my children are in three different schools and I have to make lunches, corral sports equipment, drive carpool, and start work early so I can leave to get my children to their after-school obligations. Beginning the morning in meditation was not on my “To Do List.”

As I continued to take workshops at the Well and read about mindfulness, I was constantly reminded to “Just Breathe.” Eventually, I decided to cultivate present moment awareness with the So Hum meditation. This simple but powerful technique uses breath and repetition of a mantra to quiet the mind and relax the body. Initially, after waking, I started with five minutes a day on the floor of my bedroom. Gradually, I have increased my time to 30 minutes and this ritual has become more important than my morning cup of coffee. Making time for meditation has enabled me to start my day living in the present moment. I embrace the calm before I open my bedroom door to the storm!

Over the course of a few months, I learned that the breath is by far the most valuable training tool in helping me discipline myself into stillness. Starting my day with meditation has helped me to become more responsive and less reactive. I am better able to handle challenges of work and family with grace and equanimity. I have also begun to notice beauty all around me and started a visual catalog that I use when I write in my “Gratitude Journal.” Last week, I had a profound realization while our family shared the things we are grateful for in our daily dinnertime ritual. My 12-year-old took out his cell phone and shared amazing pictures from his day, which he called “snippets of beauty.” I realized that my children are observing me and what I do really matters. The poignant words of Glenis Redmond came to mind:

“We are so far away from the heart, when only the head leads with only what is wrong. How about the million beauties you walked by today and did not see? Name them. The world needs – I need – your catalog of beauty.”

I encourage you, “Just Breathe” and see where it takes you on the glorious journey!

Helen Welde Doyle lives in Phoenix, MD with her husband and three sons. She works for Baltimore County Public Schools as a parent resource for parents of children with special needs. She is an avid reader and lifelong learner.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Quench, the Well’s quarterly newsletter. If you’d like to be on our mailing list, call the office at 410-296-9355.