A year ago my wife and son came home from the dog rescue center with two gorgeous Jack Russell Terrier-Chihuahua mix sisters. Our four year old daughter wanted to name them Sign and Pepper. To this day we have no idea where those names came from. Our older two kids prevailed on the naming front so they are now Sunny and Georgie.
They’re both fun and lively dogs, except for the occasional (daily!) pooping and peeing inside the house. There’s actually only one real complication with our dynamic doggy duo: Sunny’s left eye produces no tears. None. She has complete dry eye and has had it since the day we got her when she was six weeks old; i.e., it’s probably congenital. Left untreated it would cause an ulcerated cornea which would require removal of her eye.
Throwing the kitchen sink at Sunny’s eye
Our vet had us give her an ointment medication for several months. No luck. They then sent us to a veterinary eye specialist. Their plan was to throw the kitchen sink at Sunny’s eye, prescribing four different medications that needed to be administered twice a day. All in the hope that this would result in at least some tear production. Several months into this medication madness, still no luck getting our precious Sunny to make tears.
But the point of this piece isn’t about Sunny’s eye. It’s about what I finally figured out could be helpful to me in my mindfulness practice.
Simple idea, big gain
As is always the case with mindfulness, the whole thing is simple. I realized that I had to apply all these medications every day, twice a day, at roughly the same times. So it hit me. Why not use those occasions as reminders to stop and take some mindful breaths?
The truth is that it’s a pain-in-the-butt to have do this medication thing twice a day, especially since Sunny hates it when I put drops in her eyes. She nips at me unless I get in and out quickly.
But I made a positive out of it. That’s at least two times a day that I now stop, relax, breathe consciously and get centered in my seat of self.
How this can help you
What does this mean for you? Odds are you don’t have a pet that needs medication administered twice a day. But I’ll bet you have activities that you repeat every single day.
The obvious one that I also do is breathe mindfully while brushing my teeth. As I brush I simply take long, slow, deep breaths. This is one I recommend highly. What the heck else are you going to do while brushing your teeth that is more valuable than calming and centering yourself with some conscious breathing?
Heating up your coffee
I’m sure there are others, too. For you coffee drinkers, consider taking thirty seconds to breathe deeply while you warm up your cup in the microwave. I have to warm my coffee at least three times every morning. That’s a great opportunity to practice presence.
Showering is another good one. I actually have a yellow post it note on my shower wall on which I wrote “Breathe.” One of the students in my online meditation and mindfulness class says she loves doing her breathing every morning as she applies her makeup.
Consider taking a minute or two to think about your daily routine and whether there’s anything you do that would be conducive to consciously breathing.
This mindfulness stuff is all about repetition. The more you do it, the more present you’ll become. And the more present you become, the better human you’ll become, in every way.