breathing

taking a step


Sit quietly, with gentle attention on your breathing. Move the attention slowly from your nose to your throat area, from your lungs to your diaphragm, then to your abdomen. After a few minutes, move your attention slowly down your legs to your feet, to the soles of your feet.

Now stand up. Feel the sensation on your soles of the floor or ground. Describe them to yourself...cool, smooth, rough, solid, bumpy. How would they differ if you were on a warm beach, on a mountain track, swimming?

Bring your attention back to the here and now. Take a few slow steps and feel the changing sensations on the different parts of the soles of your feet as you walk - as each part touches the ground, as you shift your weight, lift your foot, move it through the air...and so on. Shut your eyes and take another few steps, slowly, carefully, putting attention on the messages you receive through the soles of your feet.

Note, as you do this, that some of the sensations come from actions due to your own will and effort and some from your surroundings. And this is how it is with all our life. Some of it comes from 'me', so much more from 'other'. Namo Amida Bu!

support

Close your eyes, relaxing and allowing your breath to settle. After a few minutes, gently move your attention to your sense of touch. Feel the solidity of the bed or chair beneath you. Feel how supported you are by this piece of furniture, by the floor beneath it and, through the building, the earth below you.

Bring to mind the wood that the chair/bed and floor are constructed from. Think of the tree, planted so long ago, by design or by nature. And the sun and rain and fertile earth that fed the tree. Watch it growing in your mind's eye. How many years do you think it was growing for?

Now think of the men who chopped the tree down. How long ago was that? How was that tree transported to the timber yard, the carpenter's workshop, the factory? Think of the time and effort it took to transform the living tree into the piece of furniture. And the same with the timber that became floorboards, as the building in which your room is was constructed.


Continue sitting, breathing evenly, as you think of all the people listed above, and those who sold and bought the furniture, all those involved in the construction of your building....all the forces of the natural world....all contributing to that solidity that supports you as you sit or lie.

the air that I breathe.....

For a short time, as you breath in and out, notice the sensation of the air filling your lungs. For a moment, put a hand 3 or 4 inches below your nose and feel the out-breath.

Watch the clouds being moved by the wind. Give thanks for air, for the conditions that created the air. Think of all the planets in our solar system. Here we are, on planet Earth, the planet with this delicate atmosphere that surrounds us and supports all life.
Breathing in and out, I am grateful for air to breathe
Breathing in and out, I think of all people, all creatures that are breathing at this moment

one breath at a time - awareness of breathing

This week, at odd moments in the day and for a period while you are sitting or lying, rest the hand lightly on the diaphram or abdomen and notice the movement as the breath goes in and out.

Breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in

Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out 

(*Thich Nhat Hanh)

Reflect on the fact that we can control the breath - holding it, breathing faster or slower - but only for short periods at a time. How fortunate that we do not have to be focused at all times in order to breathe! However we may feel at any time - well, ill, joyful, sad, worried, relaxed - our breathing has continued from the moment of our birth right up to this present moment and, for the most part, without our active input into the process.  

Spend a few moments contemplating how precious, vital, each breath is to you - imagine for a moment how you would feel if the next breath was to be your last. Allow yourself to feel gratitude for the process of breathing:

Breathing in, my body is nurtured

Breathing out, I give thanks for my breath