To change the world, start with a single breath

We are not persuaded to abandon the comfort of our fears, our hatred, and our ignorance through aggression and scolding. Shame does not elevate us, blame does not bring out our best, and contempt does not change our minds. We are hardened, not opened, by hostility. One person’s spiritual evolution cannot be determined by another person’s agenda, no matter how well-intentioned. The worst in us is softened and altered — in our own sweet time — by being heard, being seen, being met where we are.

We are changed by love.

How is love possible in times when we are confronted with hatred, fear, and ignorance? What does love look like when we are anxious, disheartened, overwhelmed, outraged? We are blessed with fear and anger to inform us when our values and boundaries are threatened or violated — this is vital information, but information is not wisdom. How, then, do we move from information to wise action?

Love’s victory over fear begins with a single, mindful breath. A single, mindful breath is a moment of clarity, it is self-care, a leaning in, an affirmation of life and consciousness, a break in the cycle of reacting to fear and aggression with more fear and aggression. A single breath is sometimes all the space we need to collect ourselves, to gather our wits (to be fair, sometimes this requires more than one breath).

A single, conscious breath is a radical act of love. (Remember, we are changed by love.)

In the space of a single, mindful breath, we short-circuit our real, physiological fight-or-flight response and create the space to choose whether we will come to the table with aggression or with compassion, in a state of panic or in a state of clarity, with a limited focus on what is wrong or with a vision of all that is possible when we slow down and listen for the best in ourselves.

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