Thursday, November 09, 2006

Consciously Breathing

I understood a new meaning to "thinking about my breath" as I sat with my medication group last night. With every breath my mantra was "Don’t cough".

If I hadn’t been responsible for opening the door and for leading the group last night, I would probably have opted to just go home and eat more of my husband’s awesome chicken soup. But I take my responsibilities seriously, so I showed up with the warning that at any point I might launch into a coughing frenzy.

It is true that if you are conscious of every breath, it is hard for outside thoughts to intervene. So in a sense I achieved one goal of meditation. But at the same time I was acutely aware of every tickle that might unleash pent-up coughs – you know the ones that just feel like they will never stop.

I managed to get through our 35-minute sit with just 3 little episodes of clearing my throat. But then after I read Jon Kabat-Zinn’s piece on Generosity and we discussed it, my cough came forth full force. It just couldn’t wait any longer. That was OK. I was careful not to cough on anyone and the need to respect the silence was over.

Hopefully by the next time I join a group for meditation I will be breathing a lot easier and I can once again lose myself in my breath instead of being so conscious of it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's like not thinking about pink elephants!

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting Freudian slip in your first line..."medication" for meditation.

And great powers of concentration you have to hang on to the cough for that long!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ooops! Those nasty typos. I suppose I use the group for both purposes, so I'll just leave it be.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I know what that is like. You slow down your breathing and take shallower breaths. Let's face it, there are not a whole lot of activity options at that point. Especially if, on top of that, you have to be self conscious in front of others.

Why aren't you staying home and resting?

5:53 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Hope you get rid of that cough. it's the worst thing...annoying to yourself and I always think others are annoyed by it too...and yet, you can't help it. Cough syrup never seems to work well. You get tired and sweaty after a coughing fit. The only good thing is it tightens your abs!!! HA!
Rest up on the weekend.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Perhaps concentrating on your cough was meant to be your meditation :) The shallow breath option only works so long, and then blam! You're cracking a rib, coughing. You are holding out much better than I - hope you feel better soon.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

OL -- I'm a little slow. I don't get the pink elephants.

Richard -- Experience has shown that I have to be almost dead to stay home and rest. I am staying home tomorrow because it's a Federal holiday. Does that count?

MOI -- The cough is the only thing that is tightening my abs these days. I never thought I would miss exercise!

Pauline -- I take it your cold is not going away either. A few more days of coughing and I am going to declare this is more than a cold. Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and be all better. I hope you do too.

8:49 PM  

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