Breathing in, I dwell in the present. Breathing out, I am this wonderful moment.

I have always liked this meditation offered by Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and writer Thich Nhat Hanh. It is simple, yet packed with power. This month, as some of my friends know, I am preparing for another residency at school which means papers to write, manuscripts to prepare, books to be read. I am also getting my act together for a hiking adventure. My plate is getting a little full and I can become easily distracted by to do lists and deadlines. I can become overwhelmed and worried. But, I also realize, I can pause and be present.

That is what I will practice today as I use my Sunday to teach, write, run around and take in what is honestly, even in all its demands, a beautiful place to be. A few days ago, I let a bit of frustration escape and expressed my frazzled state to a friend. He countered: You’re doing all this because it’s fun, right? It was as though someone released a pressure gauge. It was the exact thing I needed to hear to remind myself that life—this wonderful, joyous life—is fun. It is exactly where I want to be right now, doing exactly what I am doing. If I start to wring my hands with worry over details and deadlines, then I remove myself from the moment, I remove myself from the fun.

Does this kind of thinking relinquish us from getting tasks done? No. But it does frame our stories and remind us that when we stop, when we take a breath, we inhale all that is and we exhale and sustain this present moment, this beautiful moment.

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