Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. No matter what is going on inside us – thoughts, emotions, or perceptions – our breathing is ways with us, like a faithful friend. Whenever we’re carried away by thinking, when we’re overwhelmed by strong emotions, or when our minds are restless and dispersed, we can return to our breathing. We bring our body and mind together and we collect, calm, and anchor our mind. We’re aware of the air coming in and going out of our body. With awareness of our breath, our breathing naturally becomes light, calm, and peaceful. At any time of the day or night, whether we’re walking, driving, working in the garden, or sitting at the computer, we can return to the peaceful refuge or our own breath. We may like to say silently,
Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I’m breathing out.
To increase your mindfulness and concentration, you gently and easily follow your in-breath and out-breath all the way through. Just sitting and following your breathing can already bring a lot of joy and healing.
The best way to reunite with your body is through your breath. Awareness of your breathing brings your mind back to your body. Be with your body and remember that you have a body. Release any tension and bring calm to your body. This is the first step in restoring wellness. Bringing your mind home to your body, you become established in the here and the now, and you have a chance to live life and experience each moment deeply. When you’re in touch with your body, you’re in touch with life, the cosmos, and planet Earth.
Sitting here is like sitting under the Bodhi tree.
May Body is mindfulness itself,
entirely free from distractions.
When you sit down, be aware that you are sitting on the Earth. Practice following your breathing in and out. Feel your spine tall, straight, and relaxed like a tree. Feel yourself rooted in the Earth notice your breath. Thoughts come and go like clouds. Don’t hold on to them or follow them, just let them pass by. Allow your body to completely relax. Don’t struggle. Allow your mind to settle.
We don’t do sitting meditation in order to become a Buddha or even to become enlightened. We sit to be happy. That’s all. We sit merely to be there. We sit to be aware that the wonderful world is right there inside us, above us, below us, and all around us. If we can sit like that, happiness becomes a reality.
We may sit for fifteen, thirty, or forty-five minutes. But even if we only sit for a few minutes we have to enjoy it and we have to profit from every single moment of sitting. How many people in the world have the chance to start their day so peacefully, sitting calmly and quietly in the early morning? We also have many opportunities throughout the day to sit mindfully, whether we’re at home, at school, at work, in the car, or on the train. Begin peaceful and happy in our sitting, we can say,
Peace while sitting.
Joy while breathing.
Peace is the sitting.
Joy is the breathing.
This is an art.
Source: Thich Nhat Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth, 2013
Synchronizing Breath & Body Movement
1. Stand with your feet hip width and arms relaxed at your side.
2. Inhale to your chest and raise your arms overhead, allowing the breath movement to be slightly longer than the body movement.
3. Exhale, flattening your belly as you lower your arms back to your sides. Again, allow the length of the breath to be slightly longer than the movement of your arms.
4. Repeat a number of times until you get the feeling that the movement of your arms is enveloped by each part of your breath.
Source: Mark Whitwell, the promise, 2015