Most of us don’t know if, at this very moment, we are in the middle of our lives or living our last few days. Probably few of us even think about this very often.
The fact that our wonderful human lives hang by a thread is what motivates many Buddhist practitioners to live each passing moment to the full, and to grow spiritually in the process. To do so requires the skill of becoming increasingly aware of our decisions – all of them – gradually making them more wise and compassionate. More info
Why we sit and notice our breathing
Written by Padmadharini
“It is just sitting and breathing, but it’s also so much more than that.”
Something someone said in a meditation day practicing anapanasati (mindfulness of breath). We were exploring breath and breathing. Just that. Noticing the finer textures of the breath. Each breath different. Each breath unique.
I was struck by how hard this can be at the beginning when the breath seems so boring or the same. We may struggle to maintain connection for more than a few seconds before mind hijacks us with something far more entertaining.
But sit for long enough until you become intimate and so familiar with this breath, and then the next, and soon the breath discloses a secret. That it is in fact not a thing, but more a symphony of sensations playing throughout the body.
Over years of being with my own breath, it seems to have taught me something about slowing down; about enjoying being with something just for its own sake rather than to get somewhere. It’s taught me to stop sometimes and enjoy just this moment happening now, because I’ve learned that each moment contains mystery and surprises.
The other morning in Prospect Park out for a walk, I noticed the sun shining across the lake. So I just sat still, doing nothing for half an hour. So much happened in that half hour. A lightning storm of starlings scurrying across the blue expanse; clouds painted over the ripples on the water; trees giving off different tones as the wind blew through. Just enjoying that wonderful symphony of now.
The practice of just breathing and being present as the breath breathes the body is how I learned to see the richness of each moment. I certainly didn’t breathe to entertain or distract. And it didn’t always bring me peace. It taught me instead a deeper appreciation for the fluid and changing nature of every experience.
And sometimes, when I sit for long enough, I stop what I am becoming, and disappear from the equation. And the world then discloses its treasure. A place I’d call the heart that is always reaching, and finding connection. A place of such rest and peace, you don’t need to become anything any more.
So yes, just sitting and breathing really turns out to be so much more. It is a doorway into presence and peace. A place in which we can shed the weight of trying to be somebody or get somewhere, and simply enjoy this, as it is, as it can only ever be.