Breathing at the Dentist


The practice of mindfulness is one that travels.  We can carry it with us wherever we go.  And the more places we carry it with us the more able we are to connect with a widening circle of experiences happening in the here and now.  When we cultivate connection we’re also cultivating the art of understanding and acceptance.  And the more things we can learn to accept the happier we’ll be.

Yesterday I carried my mindfulness practice with me into the dentist’s chair.  I don’t go to the dentist very often, on account of it being one of the fastest ways to spend a lot of money.  So when I do go it’s because I’m having an issue.  Yesterday I went in to have two cavities filled, one of which made it difficult to chew on one side of my mouth.  I was not looking forward to this experience, as I’m sure most everyone can relate to.  I imagine it must at times be challenging to be a dentist or dental assistant because no one is ever really happy to see you.  While one might be glad to have their tooth pain addressed not many people want to go to the dentist.  I’ve only had one other cavity in my life and so I couldn’t remember how much pain to expect or what the experience would be like but I did know I didn’t particularly want to be there.

These days I enjoy the new opportunities that present themselves in my daily life in order to expand my mindfulness practice so that it can grow and strengthen.  So while I was not thrilled about having to go to the dentist I did appreciate having a new situation in which to carry my mindfulness into.  On the way from my car to the front door of the dental office just before 9:00am yesterday morning, with a bright blue sky overhead and a nice winter chill in the air, I breathed in and out the golden sunshine and paid attention to my steps as I walked.  I greeted the man at the reception desk with  a light disposition and a big smile.  Within a few minutes I was in the dentist’s chair having a numbing agent swabbed on my gums in preparation for the insertion of a large needle.  I closed my eyes and connected with my breathing.  Breathing in I know that I breathing in, breathing out I know that I am breathing out.  Breathing in I feel my stomach rise, breathing out I feel my stomach fall.  

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