My wish for you is that you be free from suffering, anxiety, fear, sickness, emotional upheaval, discord, and financial obstacles. If I have wronged you, I am sorry. If you have wronged me, I forgive you. Please forgive yourself. If you are burdened by secrets, my wish for you is that you relax with yourself right now. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Relieve yourself of the burden of shame and embarrassment. Realize that you are precious and human, imperfect yet basically good.
If life seems harder for you than for others, or if it’s an overwhelming burden just to care for yourself, please get help. Ask for help, and accept help. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Summon resources in the kindest possible way. Join with others who are similarly struggling, and share solutions that lift up all.
Asking for help is a sign of strength. It is a sign that you have a larger vision for your life. When your basic needs are met and the ground is under your feet again, you will see how to help others, including those who are suffering as you have suffered. You will be able to place your mind on others’ lives – how they are suffering, how they experience happiness and joy, how you can help. Curiosity about others broadens our minds. It is a gift to ourselves as well as others.
My wish for you is that for seven minutes a day, you stop all activity and just be. Just feel your life. Sit still. Sit in an upright posture that reminds you of your inherent dignity and wealth of basic goodness. Notice your breath and remember that you are alive.
Reflect on the idea that your existence is basically good just because you are alive. You are fundamentally worthy. You deserve to be happy, to enjoy being kind to yourself and considerate to others. You have the ability to learn how to be kind to yourself. You are capable of being a great source of comfort for others. You can learn to slow down and appreciate your life. As you are fundamentally good, so are all others, even those who have wronged you. You can grow your bravery and your ability to forgive and to extend yourself to others. You can practice every day to connect with being alive, to uplift yourself and renew your resolve.
Practicing seven minutes a day means that for seven minutes you sit and breathe naturally. Place your mind not on your ideas and thinking but on your breath. Keep breathing naturally. Just relax. When you notice that your mind isn’t on the breath, very gently place your mind on the breath.
For just seven minutes, the attitude toward your thinking is a very gentle “not now.” You aren’t forcing anything. You’re not struggling to blank out your mind. You’re learning to see that you are thinking, first of all. You see that you are actually thinking constantly. That is not a cause for shame or frustration. When you are aware that your mind has been caught up in thought, that’s wonderful. It’s such a glorious gift to see your own mental activity more clearly.
Return to the breath. Thoughts will happen. That’s how it is. Don’t add to your thinking. Your mind has been trained to follow every thread of thinking. Return to your breath.
Return to all of your senses: feeling your seat, the temperature, the inside of your clothes; seeing colors, movement and stillness; smelling fragrances; hearing the hum of the refrigerator or the sound of traffic or birds; tasting your tongue. There’s so much to return to. We are returning to our life at this moment.
This is not an escape. Being lost in thought is our escape from reality. We won’t find lasting happiness in the past or future. We haven’t so far. We cannot neglect the present moment any longer. The world needs us. Our world needs us to be present, available, open, genuine, joyful.
You are noticing thoughts, not judging them, and returning to the breath. That may not sound like a big deal but it is huge. It is the basis for retraining ourselves, for gaining a positive, healthy sense of control and feeling less overwhelmed. We’re becoming more able to focus on whatever we value. We’re making the mind stronger so that for the other 23 hours and 53 minutes of our day, we will have a more workable mind. If we want to focus on a verse of scripture, we can do that. If we want to relax our thinking and just be with our kids or spouse or boss or next-door neighbor, we can do that.
By being more available to our world, we discover a lightness in ourselves. We don’t have to constantly keep our stories alive. They will do just fine without our constant attention.
This sounds simple, but it isn’t easy. Don’t give up. If you avoid it for a while, just come back to it. You deserve it.
Please practice this. And please don’t share this with others until you do. It is not true that others need it more than you do.