Pausing to Breathe

  • Pausing to Breathe

As we finish up the exploration of the ethical practices of the Eightfold Path, it could be easy to look at wise speech, wise action and wise livelihood as a set of guidelines about what not to do. Here is a lovely way to approach the ethical precepts from a more positive stance. This comes from James Baraz in his beautiful book, Awakening Joy. Instead of:

Don’t Kill: Honor All Life

Don’t Steal: Share Your Time and Resources

Don’t Misuse Sexuality: Take Care with Sexual Energy, Respecting Boundaries and Offering Safety

Don’t use Harsh Speech: Speak Kindly and Carefully

Don’t use Intoxicants that Cause Heedlessness: Develop a Clear Mind and Health Body

These ethical precepts are life-long practices that require ardency, dedication, constancy, and the willingness to show up for our lives by truly paying attention. We may never get it exactly right, but that’s not really the point. The point is to live our lives with the intention towards goodwill and harmlessness for ourselves and others. And hopefully with practice, we’ll do that more often than not.

So, taking a breath this week to relish the last week of summer and the coming of fall, here’s a poem printed in the current issue of The Sun magazine.


Don’t you wish they would stop,

all the thoughts swirling around in your head like

bees in a hive, dancers tapping their way across the stage?

I should rake the leaves in the carport, buy Christmas lights.

Is there really life on Mars? What will I cook for dinner?

There’s frost on the front lawn, dry branches

on the stoop. I walk up the driveway to put out the garbage

and think: I should stop using plastic bags,

call my friend whose husband just left her for the nanny

from Sweden, a place I might like to visit.

I wish I hadn’t said Patrick’s painting looked “ominous.”

Maybe that’s why he hasn’t answered my e-mails.

Does the car need oil? There’s a hole in the ozone

the size of Texas, and everything seems to be speeding up.

Come, let’s stand by the window and look out

at the light on the field. Let’s watch how

the clouds cover the sun, and almost nothing

stirs in the grass.

~Danusha Lameris

Sign up to be notified about new classes & articles

On Purpose:

Stories & Insights from Mindfulness, Dharma,
and Waking Up Each Day

Read Blog