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Returning the breath

I don't know about you but the last thing I want to hear when I'm agitated is, "Calm down and just take a deep breath." Ironic, isn't it?

I know that breathing deeply makes me feel calm and centered and present. That's what it's like when I take time to meditate in the morning.

But when I'm out in the hot sun and losing at my first game of miniature golf in three years, it's not so easy. I was the one who wanted to play. I don't play real golf nor have I much experience with most sports. I know how to hit a tennis ball or baseball or throw a football. I'm just not good at any of those things. So, no wonder I had trouble getting the stroke right. First too hard. Then too soft. Forget about aim! I was just trying to get close.

And the course had been rebuilt since the last time we played. We both noticed and lamented the absence of cute windmills and funny creatures until we realized that this plainer-looking course actually had more subtle hills, swerves and dips in the mini-greens. Anyway, I grew more and more frustrated and irritated with my inability to even sink a 5" putt. And my husband's friendly advice (he actually did play golf years ago and many other sports) just agitated me more! Augh.

It's times like this when your beloved pet becomes "that stupid cat" or the slow driver in front of you becomes "that oblivious @$$#*!%." Even inanimate objects irritate you as you bump into them, trip over them or they break down: Stupid lampshade; Why don't they fix that curb?; @#$%ing car!

I'm always amazed by how easily I may be overtaken by my feelings. Needless to say, if it is not your practice to mindfully observe the coming and going of your feelings -- without judgment -- you may not even realize what's happening to you. And you may not heed the wisdom of the sage advice to take a deep breath. Or two. Or three. Or ten.

Your breath is your home. Returning to your breath is like returning to a loving, welcoming home. You belong there. Whenever you can remember to go there, go! FYI, we played a second round and I played much better.

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