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The First Lesson

At a school in faraway Tibet, a school teacher was walking by after finishing is class. Some distance away, he noticed a child monk teaching some other monks, who were obviously younger. The teacher would have been ten years old, not more.

Intrigued by the scene, the teacher walked towards this motley group and began observing the children. After a while, being unable to contain his curiosity, he asked, “What are you doing with these young students?” Said the young child monk, “Oh! Master I just completed my first class with these young friends of mine.”

Learning the first lesson in life – Image (C) iStockPhoto via Google Image Search

So, what did you teach them, the teacher asked, full of curiosity. In reply, the child monk asked a counter question, “Teacher, what is it that you teach your students in their first lesson on their first day at school? In fact what did you learn in your first day at school?”

Intrigued by the question and possibly slightly irritated, the teacher said, “Well, I learned the alphabets and the numbers, maybe. And that’s what I teach my students as part of their first lessons. Now, tell me what is it that you are teaching your young students?”

“The first thing I learnt was how to breathe. And that’s what I taught these young students of mine in their first class,” the child monk said with a smile that lit up his eyes. The teacher came closer to the motley group and asked simply, “And, why would you do that?”

“Because, that’s the only thing that stays with us from the moment we are born till the moment of your last breath. Our friends, our family, the house we live in, the country we belong to… all these can change. The one thing that doesn’t change is our breath and yet we never make friends with it,” the child monk said leaving the teacher stupefied.

Wanting to know more now, the teacher said, “You’re right, but does it have any use that we befriend our breath? The student had a look of incredulity on his face as he replied, “Doesn’t it? Whatever be the emotion that one is going through, it manifests in our breath. When you’re angry, it shortens. When you’re stressed, it becomes heavy. When you’re sad, it becomes long. Every emotion is experienced with a change of breathing pattern.”

Now, if we are away of how every emotion impacts our breath, wouldn’t it be easier for us to navigate through our emotions by simply changing our breathing? the child monk asked.

The teacher bowed. He realised that the lessons in mindfulness that he had learnt from his teachers was being explained in a childlike fashion here.

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