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Photo: flickr/Stefan Rüdiger

I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I’m tired.

Just breathe.

My mind is whirling with self-doubt and questions that I need answers to immediately. My day hasn’t gone as planned, and I’m not going to be able to get everything done. There’s a running dialogue – stream of consciousness – and it feels like it cannot stop.

Just breathe.

My heart’s racing on another caffeine trip. I didn’t get enough sleep last night and my mind’s wandering. Unfortunately, I didn’t pack a lunch, either (written prior to Buy Nothing Challenge!). Rather than the norm – guilt – I feel beat from the frugal life.

Frugaling is working. I’m maximizing my budget and minimizing debt. But sometimes, I question the foundation of saving. A monstrosity of nearly $40,000 in loan debt is boring into me. Sometimes progress is like watching grass grow. Ironically, it’s the little decisions that add up.

There’s a convenience store across from work. More than anything, I want to grab a pack of Twizzlers or maybe a donut. It’s what I crave; weird, I know. Sugar and empty calories. There’s seemingly nothing better when you’re training for a marathon. In these moments of reflection, it takes serious willpower, prevention, and mindfulness to trump the convenience.

Writing these lines makes my mouth water in anticipation. Can I please have it? I’ve been working hard all day. I almost feel like I deserve that food. What’s the harm? It’s only $1.99!

Over the last year or so I’ve tried to insert a more meditative, mindful approach to my daily routine. Mindfulness is about really being present and in the moment with the world around you. It comes in handy when I’m hungry, cranky, and tired. I’m better able to feel the emotions, while also realizing they’re just that. Instead of simply stating, “I’m hungry,” I think, “I’m having thoughts of hunger.” Emotions are an endless stock ticker through the head. Changing the shape of your thoughts can powerfully distance yourself from your cravings.

Mindfulness meditation can be immensely powerful at circumventing the normal bustle; yet, in training, it’s frustrating and challenging. As I try to calm my mind, it frequently seems to run rampant and uncontrolled. I breathe again.

Recently, the New York Times featured the power of meditation in developing deeper empathy:

The next time you meditate, know that you’re not just benefiting yourself, you’re also benefiting your neighbors, community members and as-yet-unknown strangers by increasing the odds that you’ll feel their pain when the time comes, and act to lessen it as well.

Meditation and mindfulness don’t just benefit others, though. By becoming more self-aware and awake, it’s easier to save money. Suddenly rash purchases and conceptualized needs don’t seem as important. You can be present for more purchases and better establish the desires versus wants to save money.

As I left work, I peacefully walked by the convenience store; without those red, tempting Twizzlers and $2 richer.

Just breathe.