Breathing: experiencing reality of the moment
We are breathing around x20,000 every day. This automatic vital function is subconscious and the trigger reflex is controlled by the CO2 in the brain.
Why breathing is considered so important in the practice of meditation in general, mindfulness, mindfulness-based meditation in particular, and many other techniques of relaxation?
There are many reasons:
1) Practical reasons:
– 1 We carry our breathing 24/7 making it available anytime.
-2 Breathing is the only vital function of our body that we can control in amplitude and frequency.
2) As far Zen and other Oriental practices are concerned:
Focusing consciously and in a mindful way on breathing is a paramount skill to achieve as part of our spiritual journey towards better mind control, serenity and Awakening. Why that?
We learn to focus on our body and what it is doing. We never do that unless medical conditions.
How often are you thinking about your hands?….and yet, our body and what it is doing is an obvious example of concrete reality. Isn’t!
Because being aware of our breathing is a perfect example to experience consciously the concrete reality of the present moment. It is only during this “NOW” that genuine non-fictional reality exists.
Past, future and their related thoughts and feelings do exist but they are the fruits of our mind-made fictional world.
Here is an example of concrete reality vs fictional one:
When you look, touch and smell an orange, you are experiencing the concrete reality of this fruit.
But if you do the same exercise mentally your are in the virtual, fictional, imaginative world of your mind even if your mental process does exist.
The only way to escape from our fictional mind traps, at least temporally, is to reconnect to our present reality of the moment and focusing on breathing is a wonderful tool to achieve it.
When and how to focus to our breathing in a mindful way?
1)During formal sitting meditation.
By paying attention to your normal breathing as it is w/o controlling it and w/o analytic
nor decision. This is the definition of mindfulness.
By doing so, we anchor our restless mind as long as possible.
Counting each breath after each exhale from 1 to 10 then back to 0 is a useful trick.
When the mind is taking over- it always does- accept the pop-up thoughts, press the reset button and go back to the anchor. You are experiencing the reality of the moment, that is Awakening.
2)During the day:
When looking for calmness or break away from being on autopilot, we can click on the pause button called breathing.
Hold on your activities if you can, sit straight and take 5 to 10 controlled breaths with slower exhale.
It has been proven scientifically that mindful and slow exhale done properly reduces tension and stress.
Once-a-while move away from your autopilot behavior and daydreaming and experience
the reality of the moment by practicing, on the go, mindful breathing.
It will not bring you ecstasy or even happiness but, at least, it will force our restless mind
to be less talkative, at least for a short period of time.