Breath by Breath: the Quality of the Breath; part two

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Wind River Roadless Area, Wyoming: Photograph by Jack Dykinga, National Geographic
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But as you pay attention, the quality of the breathing changes, perhaps because thinking is diminished.
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The breath becomes deeper, finer, silkier, more enjoyable, and the body starts to bear the fruits of that, to become more relaxed.
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This isn’t something to try for.
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Trying actually prevents it.
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It just reflects the power of mindfulness.
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You find yourself growing angry or worried; your heart starts to pound, your body to grow tense; but if you can just be with the breath for a while—not suppressing the emotion, but breathing with it—all that changes.
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The mind grows calm.
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As the breath goes, so goes the body.
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Something happens when mindfulness touches breathing.
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Its quality changes for the better.
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That is a part of what you learn from these first two contemplations, noting not just whether the breath is long or short but all the other effects it has as well.
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This attention to the breath has tremendous consequences.
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But it is important to emphasize, in discussing the art of meditation (and the practice as you continue it becomes an art, with many subtle nuances), that you shouldn’t start out with some idea of gaining.
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This is the deepest paradox in all of meditation: we want to get somewhere—we wouldn’t have taken up the practice if we didn’t—but the way to get there is just to be fully here.
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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Jennifer on December 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Those of us who practice have experienced this variation of breath, ” coarse, or that of silk or satin”. The connection to body, mind and spirit and how it relates to our breath. I become aware immediately when I feel my body is tense,,heart beat elevated. I slow the breath and do not judge my sit or force or “try”. What a beautiful and remarkable description of this ‘natural’ process.

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