Each Sunday evening .. after some pondering and tapping away .. I send out the Monday Meditation Musings. The email is designed to hit your inbox and give you an inspirational kick-start to your week .. provide a little meditative nourishment, a telling quote, maybe a different view of the potential in the week ahead. You can sign up for Monday Meditation Musings via the link in sidebar .. and I will try to post the entry here occassionally too!
Monday Meditation Musings : 18 Jan 2010
"This breath is the one that counts"
One of the gifts of having an extended summer holiday is that gradually time slows down and the urgency to achieve or 'do' drifts away .. we meander a little more, are softer with plans and more open to new opportunities unfolding. Sleeping patterns often change too .. and I find myself reading lazily into the early hours of morning, and then reluctant to leave the comfort of bed when day arrives. Honestly, there have been mornings of late where I have allowed myself the luxury of an extra half hour (ok, even an hour) just indulging in the joy of nowhere to go .. resting, thinking, reading, pondering or just listening to the day outside.
I was reminded of a breath practice that I learnt many years ago, and I have been including this practice as part of my lazy summer ritual. A very simple and insightful practice called Morning Breath Meditation .. done first thing in the morning (and possibly a reasons to linger a little longer). Lazy mornings are the perfect moment to practice this mini meditation, where we build our awareness of conscious breathing .. resting and watching the morning breath allows us the spaciousness to befriend our breath at its gentlest and most relaxed state.
Morning Breath Meditation
You may need to set your clock a little earlier (just 5-10 minutes) each morning this week to allow you to practice this meditation without the stress of the time pressures associated with your usual morning routine. Try to awaken as gently and quietly as possible.
* Once awake .. take some time to simply enjoy the quiet
* Slowly turn onto your back, all movements micro and slow, relishing each sensation of stretching and releasing
* Now .. rest both your hands (palms down) across your lower belly area and .. watch
* Notice how your belly moves with each inhalation and exhalation
* Feel the soft belly as it gently expands and contracts beneath your hands .. the gentle rhythm that is your breath
* No other thoughts except awareness of the breath .. inhalation and exhalation
* Aware that this is the gentle pulse of life .. moving through you .. again and again
* And with each new breath, and each new morning .. we have a moment in which we create our life anew
* Simply enjoy your resting breath for a few minutes .. until you need to move into your day
AND before getting up .. take a moment to give thanks for all that you have to be grateful for .. not least that today we woke and witnessed the magic of our breath.
Taking that awareness of breath throughout our day (through challenges, dramas, moving and relaxing) allows us to better understand how we are coping with life. When we need to calm ourselves we can also do so, simply by turning to our breath, recalling the slow easy morning breath rhythm and encouraging our breath to deepen and soften again. Being familiar with our resting breath gives us a benchmark for what a passive breath feels like and what it means to release deeply.
In the Morning Breath Meditation we witness our body, mind and breath resting without any effort, and this allows us to understand better what happens when we become quiet and surrender. There is an amazing simplicity and wholeness in just lying still and allowing the breath to 'breathe through you'.
When I first learnt to meditate it was using the foundation practice of watching the breath .. and I really did fall in love with my breath. I found great complexity and subtlety in my practice as I simply watched the rhythm of my breath unfold .. and the sheer delight of filling up with fresh, life giving air!
Whenever I need to calm and center myself .. it is my friend the breath I turn to. I consider the breath to be sacred .. connecting me with self and connecting me with others.
"When you need to slow down and come back to yourself, you do not need to rush home to your meditation cushion or to a meditation center in order to practice conscious breathing. You can breathe anywhere, just sitting on your chair at the office or sitting in your automobile. Even if you are at a shopping center filled with people or waiting in line at a bank, if you begin to feel depleted and need to return to yourself, you can practice conscious breathing and smiling just standing there" (Thich Nhat Hanh from Peace is Every Step)
The English word spirit comes from the Latin 'spiritus' meaning breath, and in other languages as well, the word for spirit is also often the word for breath .. in Sanskrit pragna, in Greek pneuma and in Chinese qi.