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Keep Your World Small

I recently listened to an interview with an astronaut, who was asked about preparing for his first spacewalk-- the moment he first left the space station, and entered outer space. In the course of the interview, he repeated a word of advice that had been handed down from one astronaut to another, when reflecting upon that moment: "Keep your world small".

And I thought to myself, how much smaller can you get, than focusing on one breath-- one moment-- at a time? That's what "being in the moment", really is. How simple, yet how profound.

For an astronaut, keeping it small is necessary in order to master the tasks at hand-- a space walk is anything but a lark. For us meditators here on terra firma, keeping it small is necessary in order to master a different kind of task, but it's a task, nonetheless.

Ask newscaster-meditator Dan Harris, who refers to the repeated act of returning to one's "anchor" (for me, it's the breath), whenever our attention is drawn by the mind to a particular thought, sound or feeling. Dan refers to that action as a "bicep curl for the brain". I call it "brain-training"-- muscle memory for the mind.

Meditation is the means by which I access the ultimate end, known as mindfulness. And it is, in a very real sense, a workout. Granted, it's different than running miles or swimming laps-- but, in many regards, it's not all that dissimilar from the physical training that so many of us grew up with, and regularly incorporate into our lifestyle. It's what I refer to as secular meditation, as distinct from the traditional philosophical or religious practices that so many of us think of.

Associating meditation with physical training may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a "way in" that-- for some-- is less daunting, and more inviting. Exercise isn't a regular part of everyone's day, and the same is true of meditation but I say don't knock it, if you haven't tried it. We all begin at more or less the same place, though the direction and speed with which we proceed, will differ.

Come on in-- the water's fine. Just one word of advice, from one astronaut to another: Keep it small!


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