There are some well-known points in time that have become associated with new beginnings in the United States: January 1st, springtime, the onset of another school year. (Not surprisingly, these points in time have become commercialized and connected to sales—of gym memberships and planners in January, new tools for yard and garden maintenance in spring, new clothes and school supplies in late summer/early fall.) Some people choose more personalized times to honor new beginnings—their birthday, the anniversary of a significant event in their life or in the world, or a particular religious holiday. While all of these markers have their significance, they may subtly tempt us into a mindset that there is a limitation on the time within which new beginnings are possible. For people who are looking to make a change in their lives, such a mindset is clearly limiting.
For individuals working toward living with intention, a valuable insight can be taken from the practice of mindful breathing, which encourages a gentle and curious focus on the motion of the breath. The symbolism inherent in mindful breathing is that every inhale is a new beginning. Because of the cyclical nature of the breath, intentional focus can allow us to become aware of a multitude of beginnings and endings within the breaths we inhale and exhale across even a minute’s time.
Empowered by an awareness of the approximately 20,000 breaths/new beginnings a healthy individual experiences in one 24-hour period, we can begin to realize that any moment can be the right time to start anew, to shift focus, to begin to forgive ourselves or others, to add to or subtract something from our life. Breath also teaches us that we don’t need to hang onto the past (in the form of the out breath), we don’t need to rush into the future (in the form of taking the next in breath), that there is much that the present moment holds if we are willing to take the time to notice.
Consider the unlimited potential for new beginnings by trying a mindful breathing exercise here.