Meeting a Hiccup

In the language of mindfulness practice, we often talk about “meeting” this moment as it is. While the past and future frame this moment, meeting is being present to now, the only moment we have. I have encouraged others and myself to meet this moment in the form of a person, situation, or object with a sense of freshness and newness. By meeting, I have found curiosity and joy in the simplest aspects of my life, even a hiccup.

I believe that I am like most people and would not choose to have hiccups. I find them to be inconvenient, uncomfortable, frustrating, and even embarrassing. This past weekend I was able to practice with how to meet a hiccup. After a pleasant dinner with my wife and visiting parents, I met my first hiccup of the evening. I met it with a sense of surprise. I met my second hiccup with disappointment as I thought they were here to stay. I met the upcoming hiccups with a desire to control and stop. I pulled out my usual “remedies” and met with failure after failure. Eventually, a slice of cold watermelon and yet another glass of water seemed to yield a victory over the hiccups.

hiccupThe victory would not last, or should I say that it lasted long enough that I met my next hiccup at 2am with surprise, disappointment, and frustration all at once. In the middle of the night…that was just not fair. I met the next hiccups with force and tried to repeat my earlier “cure” without success. I walked around the house so as not to disturb my resting wife. I looked at the stars in the clear Vermont night sky. The hiccups persisted.

I thought about the “what” and “why “of hiccups and remembered facts about hiccups.  As a young boy I was fascinated with the Guinness Book of World Records. I recalled a record about the longest case of hiccups by a young girl in Austria or was it for sneezing and she lived in Germany? Either way, the hiccups continued, even after a half a dozen slices of cold watermelon and too many glasses of water. I chose to lie on the couch and to truly meet a hiccup for the first time, or better yet to meet this moment where hiccups were happening. I watched my body respond. I found the automatic process quite interesting as my diaphragm contracted again and again. I am not sure how many hiccups I met this way, as my mind calmed. At some point, my body softened, and the hiccups were gone again.

I never thought I could learn anything from a hiccup and yet I did by simply meeting this moment. For me, meeting this moment is an ongoing life lesson.


Posted in Mind and Body in Harmony


  1. Trish says:

    Just a note of concern here. Hiccups, particularly if they are persistent, can be a symptom of other health issues including heart disease. It can be a symptom or even the only symptom of a heart attack. People need to know this so that they can seek medical attention before it is too late!

    • Paul Galvin says:

      Hello Trish,

      Thank you for your shared information. Mindfulness and MBSR specifically, promotes self care and compassion. I hope that we all “listen” to our bodies and address our needs instead of “pushing through” or dissociating from our physical sensations and symptoms. Again, thank you for your shared information and may the combination of mindfulness practice and health knowledge allow us to best care for ourselves.

      All my best,

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