You don't have to think about it.
"Bring your attention to your breathing and realize that you are not doing it. It is the breath of nature. If you had to remember to breathe, you would soon die, and if you tried to stop breathing, nature would prevail."First thing in the morning, after you turn up the corners of your mouth, pay attention to your breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. It's a good way to center yourself before getting out of bed.
— Eckhart Tolle from Stillness Speaks
In fact, whenever your thinking mind gets the better of you, pay attention to your breath. Thoughts are the source of emotion. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, remember to breathe. It's so simple, yet so effective!
For me, the best meditation practices have always worked with breathing. Mantras, not so much.
While I was living in Boston in the early '90s, my friend, Steve got me into Shambhala Training. Steve was completing his Masters in Contemplative Psychology at the Naropa Institute and suggested that I might like this secular approach to Buddhism. There was a Sangha very close by and so I started in almost immediately with Level One: Basic Goodness.
Shambhala Training consists of five undergraduate and five graduate levels of weekend workshops that mostly involve sitting, breathing, walking and listening to talks by instructors.
Who knew how incredibly difficult it would be to sit still and breathe? Simple? Torture! Why? Because our very, very busy minds enslave us to their incessant flood of thoughts.
Spending ten long weekends sitting and paying attention to my breathing was one of the single most important things I have ever done for myself. Why?
Because I became aware of my thoughts and thinking. Through that awareness, I was able to get a much better grip on being present. Sure, the talks and the teachings were important, but I developed the habit of returning to my breath when my thinking got a little out of hand. This is a great trick.
I'm starting out with the basics here. I believe in laying groundwork and establishing good foundations. If we're going to be healthy, wealthy and wise, breathing is fundamental! Just think of what breathing does for your skin, your eyes, your lungs and heart. Your mind!
Pay attention to your breath. You will become present and what seem like larger issues will start to fall into perspective. Promise.
HAROLD: "You don't look eighty."What does breathing do for you?
MAUDE: "That's the influence of the right food, the right exercise, and the right breathing. (she gestures) Greet the dawn with the Breath of Fire!"
— Colin Higgins from Harold and Maude
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