March 9, 2022, by James Young, guest facilitator of the 2nd Conscious Connection of the IQBC.
Let’s begin. Take a breath, and then take another. And then let it out.
There is always something going on in the world that is beyond our control. Sometimes it feels like we can’t control much of what is going on in our own personal worlds either.
When I was younger, there were days when so many people and too many items on my ever growing to-do list pulled at me that my days would vanish before I even noticed. Friends and family members would tell me to take a breath and slow down. I viewed them as trying to be helpful, but not understanding that I had a mountain of things to do, or perhaps – to prove. So, I would take a quick breath and keep plugging away until those days blended themselves into weeks and months, and then into years.
Eventually, I found my breath waiting for me at various spiritual retreat centers, sanghas and other meditation gatherings, but it seemed to exist only in those sacred spaces. For example, once I raced with intensity on the expressway toward a weekend retreat while thinking to myself, “I can’t wait until I get there to relax!” Relaxation, for me, was only when I got to the retreat center. And although those sacred spaces invited me to find my community, my self and my breath, I disconnected from it all when I left.
Since the pandemic in 2020, I have been keeping ever so busy. Working from home has its perks, but it keeps me on an endless cycle of checking things off my list: grade papers, review lesson plans, update the website, look at a new proposal, finalize details for an upcoming meeting, and make sure I am dressed when the camera is on! These items along with walking and feeding the dog, spending quality time with the family, cooking, cleaning, etc. still leave me forgetting to find my breath and slow down.
However, for 2 years now, I have been leading a weekly meditation group co-sponsored by The LOFT and Queery called CALM/Queer Zen Meditation. There, I ask participants to take a breath to connect with themselves and then connect with each other. Instead of running towards a sacred space, I now create them, weekly. We have guest facilitators that offer their practices, use unconventional meditation songs to deepen the focus, and commune with each other with the intention of slowing down and taking a breath.
During this time, I have learned to take a breath and to slow down. In fact, I designed a meditation that allows myself to do just that. I take a breath and then take another and then slowly release that breath. Yes, you read that right. I essentially take two breaths in and then take a long relaxing exhale. Doing this allows me to make any space, or time, a sacred space. In fact, I just took these breaths and exhaled as I wrote this paragraph. Does that make this a scared text? LOL.
In 2022, I am now the person that asks people to take a breath, but now I encourage them to take another, which might help slow them down and feel their breath in their body. And on March 9th at 9 AM EST, I was able to encourage more people to practice this kind of breathing by holding a session at the monthly Conscious Connections held by the International Queer Buddhist Conference (IQBC). There I was able to share this practice as well as share the song I wrote about the technique.
The song was inspired by the many tragic events that unfurled in 2020 and offers a very simple practice on what to do when we feel out of control.
You see, there is always something going on in the world that is beyond our control. And sometimes it feels like we can’t even control much of what is going on in our own personal worlds either. But we can take a breath, and then take another. And then let it out. Doing so allows us to let our minds wander and we can use our breath to find our way home.
May you take as many conscious breaths today to connect with yourself and then connect with others.
To learn more about the weekly meditations, please use this link: https://www.queery.us/queerzenmeditation
To learn more about Conscious Connection and IQBC, please use this link: https://iqbc.org/
To learn more about me, my music and my practice, please email: James@queery.us