Steven Barnes and wife Tananarive Due on beach.

Eye of the Storm, Eye of the Tiger

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Sixteen years ago a fine young black belt looked at me in despair and asked: “when am I going to stop being afraid?”


I was dumbfounded. I had no answer.   Four months later, he committed suicide.


Every human being is responsible for his own fate, his own destiny.  I’m not egotistical enough to think that his life, or death, was about me, or what I could or could not do.  Did or did not know.   But I swore that I would never, ever be gob-smacked by a question like that.  That I knew that many teachers had opened doors for me, taught me things that were so powerful they were like “magic”, without which I don’t believe I would have survived.  Certainly, I could never have thrived as I have.  And that to honor them I would be prepared to offer help to anyone, anytime, anyplace, even if I only had five minutes to talk to them.


It took me years to figure out the answer, but it is encoded in the “Five Minute Miracle” program, the first step for any student or client I have now.




That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  Simple, and profound.  Here, off the top of my head, are a dozen different reasons this works, and how to use it as the foundation of your new life.


  1. Everyone has five minutes.  You might lie to yourself and say you don’t have twenty minutes to meditate, but if you can’t take five minutes, it has NOTHING to do with how busy you are.  Everything to do with your emotions, beliefs, and self-destructive patterns.  It is a perfect diagnostic.
  2. Stress does not hurt you unless it becomes “strain”.  And the “strain” point is signaled by physical changes.  No changes, no strain. The “canary in the coal mine” is your breathing.  When your stress overloads, you breath fast, shallow, and high in your chest.  Deliberately slow this down, and you enter the eye of the storm.
  3. You are interrupting your negative pattern.  Before you can begin a new pattern, you have to interrupt the old one.
  4. You can “load” your breathing technique.   Go to a yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gung or other breathing instructor, and get specific instruction on deepening and improving your breathing. There is infinite depth to this technique.  The only limit is you.
  5. Any proper motion propagates throughout other aspects of your life.
  6. Attention and focus propagate throughout other aspects of your life.
  7. Proper breathing releases energy for a variety of reasons.
  8. Proper breathing vanquishes fear (or more precisely, puts it in its proper place: “oh!  There’s fear again. That’s nice.)
  9. Stress/strain creates tunnel vision.  Triggers the fight/flight response.   When you enter that threat tunnel, the world seems like a dangerous, terrible, deteriorating place.  You wouldn’t see an answer or resource if it was dangling right in front of you.
  10. It is a perfect doorway to a full meditation practice: once you prove you can take five minutes, getting to 20 minutes is easy.
  11. If you can stay calm in the midst of turmoil, you impart calm to others, like a tuning fork.    People will find you mysteriously more attractive, and want to be around you. And this can be the foundation of personal, romantic, and business relationships that can change your life.
  12. You can do it any where, any time, right in public or while you’re driving or walking down the street or in a meeting…and no one needs to know.  Or you can lock the door and lay on the floor and do it with a book balanced on your tummy (watch it go up and down!)


That’s just the top of my head.    You can totally change your life by taking this first step, anchoring the habit into your life and then expanding to Heartbeat Meditation, then anchoring that and expanding to other healthy daily habits.


The choice is yours.  100% free.   Doable by anyone, almost any  time.   Stress, properly managed, triggers growth.   Strain cripples. The choice is yours.


Steven Barnes

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