Taking A Breath: The Importance Of Being Mindful & Present

Man meditates, takes a breath, to stay mindful and present at work

Yesterday, I had a “bad day.” Poor sleep, work was a challenge, family issues, and feeling worn down. I was not in a good mood by any stretch of the imagination.

I went home to my lovely wife who made a nice dinner. She asked if I was OK, and I said no. She left me alone for a while, and I opened up. We talked. Still, I was having a bad day.

This morning, I woke up and had my daily meditation. I listened to expert-led meditation on resetting my day. The teacher pointed out you cannot retake yesterday’s breaths; you can only breathe the breath of the current moment.

Think about this for a moment (while taking a breath). Can you retake your last breath? Can you retake the breath from two weeks ago, two years ago, or two decades ago? Can you take a breath two years from now? The answer is no—you can only breathe in the present moment.

Profound, thought-provoking, and so simple.

Letting Go Of The Past

"you are not your past" graphic


I am Jim, and I have a problem. I cannot let go of my past. I dwell on mistakes. I rethink and rethink my actions repeatedly. I go over in my mind what I did wrong and what I would do differently given the chance.

Those breaths are gone, and I cannot get them back. No matter what I do.

I have been doing a lot of reflection in the past several years. I have found a new philosophy for life that I am actively exploring. Mindfulness and being present are at the forefront of this study. Breathing my current breath.

Worry About The Future

Woman thinks about her future


I am Jim, and I have a second problem. I overthink my future. Similar to my past, I replay what I want to do repeatedly in my mind. I work through scenarios (many worst cases) to plot how I want things to go. I even stress over those things I cannot control—like someone’s response.

These breaths have not even occurred, and I cannot predict when and where they will fall. No matter what I do.

Preparation and being mindful of the future are OK. Worry and obsessive planning can be stressful. Regardless of how hard we try, we cannot control every aspect of the future, nor can we predict those breaths.

Breathing Right Now… And Enjoying It.

Woman thinking as she looks out window


I am not an expert, and I am only several steps along my life path. I can tell you, I have struggled with being mindful and present. Whether I am replaying my day past or I am predicting my indeterminate future, I am adding undo stress to myself. I am creating chaos. Until this morning, I did not (and may still not) fully appreciate the words "you cannot breathe yesterday’s breath." Your breathing is the one thing you can follow to remain present and in the moment. It only occurs once, and it cannot be recreated. No two breaths will ever be alike. No breaths can ever be repeated.

The only breath that matters is the one you are taking right now. You can learn from the previous breaths, and you can prepare for the future takes. However, the only one truly in your control is the one taken right now. All the others are meaningless.

Take your breath, and know it is the best breath you can take in this very moment. Enjoy it.

Man on laptop enjoys summer while working full time

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

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