If you want to tap into the power of mindfulness and meditation to help you through your difficult moods, you should begin your practice at a time when your breath is available to you. If you wait until you are in the middle of an anxiety attack, you may find it difficult to take a deep breath. You may not have the wherewithal to slowly breathe out all the air in your lungs. When you are in the middle of the most difficult emotions you wont have the luxury of perspective to recognize that your thoughts are immediately more threatening than your circumstances. You won’t be able to throw out your mind on an out-breath.
Athletes and actors practice and practice and practice before it comes time to perform. For an athlete, life has a simple divide, there is game time and not game time. For performers there is showtime and not show time. When it is not game or showtime there is practice time. All those games and shows happen in their lives. We know that their lives are more important than the game or the show, but that changes as soon as the puck drops or the curtain rises. During the game or the show their outside lives are forgotten and all of their energy is poured into the performance. You can practice mindfulness and meditation to prepare yourself for difficult emotions, you can learn to separate yourself from your emotions so that when it is showtime you are ready to perform.
For a meditation practice, it is good to turn things around. Meditation is not the practice. It becomes the game or the show. To sit in meditation you forget about your life and just focus on your breathing. The rest of your life makes space for your meditation practice. You are no longer preparing for anything, you are just sitting with all the difficult emotions that the rest of your life has ever produced. As the difficult emotions come, you just breath them out. Let your thoughts go and return to your breath. Check your posture and return to your breath. In the rest of your life, you practice for meditation. You keep checking in with your breathing, watch your thoughts, and pay attention to your difficult emotions so that they will no longer disturb your meditation.
For a mindfulness practice, there is no separation at all. It is all practice, performance and life. It is all happening in the present. If you are meditating, you are meditating. If you are having a panic attack, you are having a panic attack. Through it all, you are breathing. When your life includes a mindfulness practice, you will see that you are something apart from your circumstances. You will see that you can influence the rotation of emotions by continually returning to the present through awareness of your breath. If you can process your difficult emotions while you are able to breathe through them, you will find them becoming less difficult. Through regular practice, you will find yourself well prepared for the performance of your life.