For the first article in this series, please click here
First just follow the breath
When I first started to meditate and follow the out-breath, I was told something like this: “Don’t dwell on what you are going to get out of it.” It was a tough message to follow because I was very critical of myself from morning to evening, making constant demands, and trying to achieve everything. It was a heavy burden and I wanted to lighten up. I decided to rebel against my learned impulses to accomplish, always keep busy and achieve. Deep down I knew there was something skewed about that attitude. I decided to give in and just follow the instructions on mindfulness of breathing.
Mindfulness of breathing is lightening up
When you follow the out-breath it teaches you to lighten up. The breath is light after all, and is part of you, so you can identify with it. In other words you can BE it. That is an incredibly skillful thing to do. Why? Because it teaches you to lighten up with everything that makes up you – like bitchy thoughts, bodily irritations, rage against your neighbor, and a strong yearning for an Italian thin-crust pizza. And that lightening up can go well beyond just meditation practice. You could even build your empire with a light touch, being more spacious and open in everything you do. Mindfulness of breathing is the first step.
25% focus, 75% relax
We practice following the breath as it goes out and dissolves into space. This is the heart of the mindfulness meditation technique. It consists of identifying with the out breath, dissolving, and gap. The instruction on placing 25% of your attention on the breath is useful. It’s a light touch, not too heavy. You identify with the out breath, then you let it go, and you relax. Very simple. If you wander and forget what you are doing, no judgement, just start again fresh with a light touch. Enjoy!
The seven points of mindfulness of breathing
1. Place your attention on the out-breath. Identify with it, become one with it. Feel its windy quality, and how it is both tangible and intangible.
2. About 25% of your attention is placed on the out-breath.
3. After the out-breath, there is a gap, an open space. You let go of the breath as it dissolves into space.
4. Rest within the space. Be curious about the gap.
5. Do not focus on the in-breath. Breathing in is a natural expression of being alive.
6. If you forget what you are doing, just simply come back to the breath, and start again.
7. Touch the breath, and let go; touch the breath and let go. Keep it light.