I think I'll content myself with stargazing and wondering. – An astrophysicist-wanna-be

 As I prepared to lead the Meditation 101 sessions, I was reading Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Tyson begins his book with the reminder that nowadays few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. With this book, he intends to bring the universe down to Earth to people with busy lives. His survey goes “from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.” You can learn about the cosmos while you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for your kids to clean their rooms, for the train, or for your plane to board.

While Tyson teaches us about astrophysics, he also invites us to contemplate the cosmos. He reminds us that the best way to learn about the universe is to pause in order to contemplate it. Even the busiest people have five or ten minutes to contemplate the world and the universe around us.

The same is true about meditation or prayer. Even the busiest people have five or ten minutes to meditate or to pray. You can do it anytime and anywhere: while you wait for a friend, for a meeting to start, for your Soy Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks, or for a text message. Meditation is a practical way to cultivate mindfulness. It is also a great teacher. It teaches you clarity and understanding, all while observing your thoughts and your breathing. But instead of telling you more about the benefits of meditation, let me take a page out of Tyson’s book and invite to contemplate the cosmos – and to meditate.


Wait! Don’t close this page. Stay with me. Give it a try. Pretty please!

I am going to invite you to meditate for three minutes. 3 minutes. That’s it! You can do it. We can do it. Let me help you.

It isn’t easy, but it’s simple. You don’t have to move. Stay right where you are. 

Let us begin.

Be still. Take slow deep breaths. A couple of breaths. Or maybe a few. Go slow.

Observe your breathing. Sense the cycle of your breathing: inhale… notice the transition between receiving and releasing… exhale… notice the pause before your next inhalation. Do that again. Notice the pause. Note the calm silence in that moment. Bring awareness to the moment of pause. Inhale. Exhale.

Breathe in to the count of three, hold for the count of two, and breathe out to the count of four.

It goes like this:

Breathe in...2....3.... hold...1...2....exhale...2....3....4....

Do that again:

Breathe in...2....3.... hold...1...2....exhale...2....3....4....

Continue to breathe at this slow pace. Sense the breath as it enters your nose. Notice the breath going out.

Notice each time you breathe in; the way the breath feels on your nostrils. Notice each time the breath goes out.

Continue breathing slowly for a few more cycles before returning to your daily life activities.

I invite you to come back to this practice in a couple of days.


Thank you for meditating with me. The more we do it, the more we grow in clarity and understanding.

We are all busy people. But it is not a matter of time; it is a matter of priorities. Even the busiest people have five or ten minutes to contemplate the universe. To meditate. To pray. To practice kindness. To eat or walk mindfully. To stargaze and wonder.

We are people in a hurry. What enriches our busy days are the moments when we pause to cultivate mindfulness and gratitude. In those moments, we notice that God is in the midst of everything. In the midst of the universe. In the midst of our breathing. If we can become more attentive to this in our everyday lives, we will become more responsive to God’s presence – to God’s activity – in the midst of our busy lives. And we as we resume our sprightly haste and our busy days, we will know deep within that the One who animates our comings and goings is the same God who created the universe and who gave us life through her breath.