So far, I’ve always described these “Just One Thing” practices with an active verb, such as “take in the good,” “give thanks,” or “find strength.” I could have done the same here, with “take one breath at a time.” But this one felt different. It’s not just that we take a breath. Sometimes the breath takes itself. Sometimes it takes us. When the mind and body are really quiet, there’s hardly any talking at all.
Whenever you like, find the breath and stay with it through one inhalation and exhalation. You could notice its sensations in your stomach, chest, or around the upper lip. Or the internal sensations inside the throat or in the diaphragm. Or sense the breath in the chest altogether.
Next, see if you can rest your attention in the breath for three full cycles of inhaling and exhaling. Then how about ten full cycles, from beginning to end? Distracting thoughts may nibble at your attention but disengage from them while sinking more and more deeply into the breath. And if you like, let go of counting and simply give over to the breath, breath after breath.
Somewhere in here, as you become more present in the breath, more absorbed in it, you could experience breathing as the whole body, the whole body breathing.
Try this at night, as you’re falling asleep, resting as a body breathing. Or if you wake and can’t easily return to sleep, soften the edges of your mind out into only breathing. Breathing blurs out into the quiet of the night.
Be breathing as you do things or have them. One breath at a time while dressing, eating, driving, talking, washing, cuddling, writing.
Or simply be breathing. Nothing else to do, no one to be. The simplest job in the world. One breath at a time.
What a relief!