This breath is all I have

I sat meditating this morning, my mind distracted (mainly) with work issues, the same thoughts ruminating over and over again. Then, in a momentary space, a phrase appeared in my mind: ‘this breath is all I have’. This breath is all I have right now, this breath is the only concern I need to have right now, and being here with this breath is all that matters. All the work baloney doesn’t matter – none of those real and imagined issues are present in this moment – but my breath, watching, experiencing and being grateful for my breath is vital. At that very moment in time it was the only thing that mattered.

We forget the simplest joys and blessings in life. Some people struggle to take a single unaided breath (I think of my recently departed neighbour who spent the last few years attached to an oxygen tank for 12-24 hours a day), and the opportunity to breathe freely and easily would, for many of them, no doubt be very joyous indeed.

But, if we have never experienced problems breathing, how easy is it to just assume that the next breath will come? Will we even notice it when it does? Yet, having the capacity to breathe is one of the richest blessings there is. As the title to the first part of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step, illustrates: ‘Breathe! You Are Alive’; this encapsulates the simplicity of a mindful path, where every single breath reminds us of the joyful blessings in our lives.

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