I meet many people who say, “Babaji, I’m anxious – my mind is racing. I cannot stop my mind from thinking negative things.” Yes, we all want to be happy and calm and enjoy the abundance in our lives, but our minds can often keep us in negativity, depression, fear or anxiety.
The mind is restless, by nature – it is either in the past or in the future. It never stays in the present moment. Today, many people take the support of medication and various kinds of substances to try to calm the mind. Since time immemorial, yogis have experimented and cultivated a very simple and holistic process to bring peace to the mind.
When we bring our attention to the breath we can fully experience the present moment and calm the restless mind. It does not require anything from outside. It just requires a little time, patience and discipline.
Our breath is coming in and out all day every day. Without it, our life on this earth will come to an end. But how often do we honor it or even pay attention to it at all? In yogic philosophy, the breath is the vehicle for prana, the life force. If we receive the breath with that kind of respect, with gratefulness, we can connect with something much deeper inside of us and truly transform our life.
During the day, try to carve out a little time to focus on your breath. Whenever you have a moment, just stop whatever you are doing, close your eyes, soften your body, pause the breath, then release it – welcome it and let go. Do this a few times. Try bringing your attention to your heart or your forehead as you hold in your breath. Before you start to stress out, release the breath. This is a simple practice that anyone can do anywhere and if it’s done mindfully, in a disciplined way with determination, it can do wonders.
There is a beautiful story. One day there was a man who was determined to find a Philosopher’s Stone, a rare and mythical stone that turns any metal that it touches into gold. He had only gone a few steps from his house when he came across a wandering holy man. The holy man asked him “Where are you going?” and the man replied, “I am setting out to look for a Philosopher’s Stone.” The holy man replied, “Oh, I have one right here – I’ll give it to you!” and took a small rock out of his bag. The man saw it and replied, “No, no – this cannot be the stone I am looking for. It couldn’t be that simple for me to find it this easily. Thank you, but I am going to keep looking.” The man wandered for days, and by the time he returned back to his home, empty handed, the holy man was gone.
We do the same thing with our breath. It is the most precious and powerful thing that we have to calm the mind, and it’s right here, within us, with us all the time. We just need to give the breath its due respect and take a little time to practice turning our attention towards it.