Breathe…. So many of us don’t breathe slowly and deeply. When we are caught up in things we tend to breathe shallowly or hold our breath. I notice this in meditation: when I have been away on a train of thought, the act of thinking seems to introduce a tension in my body and breathing. But most of all I notice it, or unfortunately don’t, in daily life when I get too swept up in what I am doing. Getting into the habit of checking-in with the breath can be a great help in grounding oneself during the day, coming back to where you sit or stand.
In our Serene Reflection meditation practice we do not follow the breath. Our practice is to experience the present moment as it is without any attempt to direct our focus or manipulate our experience of it in any way. Again and again we let go of the thoughts that takes us away from our experience of the present moment.
At the start of a meditation period we can take three deep, slow breaths imagining the breath starting at the base of the spine and rising up to the top of the head on the in-breath and then descending down the front of the body on the out-breath. This has a settling effect on the mind and body and can help the breathing return to a calmer, deeper rhythm. After taking those three breaths we then leave the breath to be as it will, though the three circular breaths, as they are called, can be repeated during the meditation if we find ourself in need of settling again.
But outside of seated meditation, checking-in with the breath, as I suggested at the beginning, can be a great help in bringing us back to an awareness of our body and mind and their current state, giving us a chance to release the tension in the body by adjusting our posture or having a stretch, and release the tension in the mind by giving ourselves a moment to get things back in perspective. Learning to break through our tendency to get swept along by circumstances, using whatever helps to bring ourselves back to inner stillness, helps us to maintain awareness both on and off our meditation seat.
Anyway, this is something I find helpful and can always do with a reminder of….Breathe….