Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath oh Fresh Air

Peace Train

on May 2, 2015

My mind shuts out all the world’s voices (including the ones in my own head!) when I am practicing yoga. I surrender to a peacefulness that takes over time and alleviates all anxiety. I am no doubt at my most pleasant present; simultaneously connecting to my body and observing my breath in a symphonic state of just being.

A yogini once told me that when our minds have free time, our thoughts tend to wander to what we have to do, or to what we have done… we rarely think just about the moment we are in. This resonated with me, inspiring me to track my own thought pattern; am I successful at “just being” in my daily life? Of course it is okay (natural!) to think of what has or will happen… we learn things from these (sometimes long, strange) trips… but the before(s) and after(s) certainly shouldn’t be our brain’s only choices.

I wasn’t surprised to find out that “just being” (present) was something I could be better at. Either you know me, or have read my “about” me so I am guessing this doesn’t surprise you either. One of the reasons I started this blog was to let out (to engage with!) some of what is in my overactive (can’t stand still[ness]) mind; to make the thoughts tangible enough to process and set free, creating more space to breathe (and share!) fresh air.

(And actually, as I write this I realize that writing is another route to my pleasant present :-)).

Tracking my own train of thought became troubling though when I realized that when I wasn’t present, my before and after thoughts trended towards negative things rather than positive. And worse than that was to realize that even when I was present, it (I) sometimes wasn’t even pleasant. All of this caught my attention in a big red flag way. But I didn’t exactly know what to do with this – how do you get your train of thought back on track? So it just stayed an idea for a while (aka it made it to my ‘what to write about list’ mentioned in “Say Anything”).

Inspiration finally found a seat on my stalled brain in a different yoga class with a different yogini. “When we surrender to the present”, she said, “our minds still need something to observe”.

This was the epiphany: that “just being” (pleasantly present) still involved integrating an intention (a focus) – my mind was still active, even though it felt as if it were resting. I realized that my train of thought derailed when I would focus on the wrong things (or on no things). It then became obvious to me that when bored, or when distracted by a chaotic environment (car horns, work, to do’s and to don’t-s), my brain became bad and bitchy.

This epiphany evoked a response; a jumpstart into action. In order to transfer into my life the pleasant present I was practicing on my mat, I needed to retrain my brain to observe something positive in my present. This was my ticket to get my train of thought back on track.

I noticed my thoughts derailing most often when walking from the Metra station to work. On this walk, I see lots of “things that make you (me) go hmmm”. In an effort to observe something positive to transfer my pleasant present into my daily life, instead of focusing on the “hmmm”, now I make it a point to notice something nice about every few people I pass. This retrains my brain to observe from a positive perspective versus a negative one. And it feels good to notice nice things about people; sometimes I even tell them (we all know I love to talk to strangers) :-).

This mind(ful) game I play fuels my intention to stay pleasantly present, reminding me that it is on me (mat or no mat) to point my perspective towards observing the positive regardless of my mind’ s location (aka wandering in the before(s), the after(s), or the present).

So now it’s your turn: Where does your train of thought take you? What obstacles can you remove from your tracks to allow you to observe more of the positive and arrive at your own pleasant present?

Thanks for reading. 🙂


Special thanks to Angela and Jadi for getting my thought train back on track:

Yogini reference # 1: Angela James: you can read about this yogi / musician at, or take a class with her at

Yogini reference #2: Jadi Engels: you can read about at, or take a class from at

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