'Mindfulness with the Breath: First steps', by Buddhadasa Bhikku
"If you want to master the anxiety of life, live in the breath."
- Amit Ray
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite intensity of each moment. Also to have immediate access to our own resources for transformation and healing. ”
- Jon Kabat Zinn
Below I offer a translation and adaptation of an essay on Mindfulness with the Breath written by Buddhadasa Bhikku, translated into English by Santikaro Bhikkhu . Without further introduction, I hope you like it as much as I do, and allow us to put this wonderful practice into action.
Mindfulness with Breathing: First Steps
by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.
Sit straight (with all spine vertebrae aligned comfortably). Keep your head straight. Direct your eyes towards the tip of your nose so that it is the only thing you see. Whether you see it or not is not really important, you just have to look in that direction. Once you get used to it, the results will be better than with your eyes closed, and you won't feel the urge to fall asleep so easily. In particular, people who are sleepy should practice with their eyes open rather than closed. Practice this way continuously and your eyes will close on their own when the time comes to close them. (If you want to practice with your eyes closed from the beginning, run on your own.) However, the method of keeping your eyes open gives better results. Some people, however, may feel that it is too difficult, especially those who are used to closing their eyes . They will not be able to practice with their eyes open, so they can close them if they wish.
Put your hands on your lap, comfortably, one on top of the other. Overlap or cross your legs in such a way that it distributes and sustains your weight well, so you can sit comfortably without falling easily. The legs can be superimposed in an ordinary way or crossed also, whatever you prefer or that is in your possibilities. Elegant postures are not necessary. Simply sit with your legs bent in such a way that your weight is completely balanced and do not turn easily with that it will be enough.
The most difficult and serious postures will be for those who wish to become more serious, like a yogi .
In special circumstances, if you feel sick or you are not feeling well, or you are simply tired, you can rest against something, such as a desk chair that allows you to rest a little. Those who are sick can even meditate lying down.
Mindfulness with Breathing: The Environment
Sit in a space where there is good air circulation, where you can breathe comfortably . There should be nothing to distract you too much. The loud noises that are continuous and have no meaning, such as those of the waves or those caused by a factory, are no problem unless you stick to their idea as a problem. The sounds with meaning as the people who speak present a greater challenge for those who are learning to practice. If you cannot find a calm place, pretend there are no such sounds . Just practice with determination and eventually you can do it effortlessly .
Although the eyes are looking in the direction of the tip of your nose, you can focus your attention or awareness or sati, as it is called in our technical language, to capture or observe your own breathing . (Those who prefer to close their eyes will do so from now on). Those who prefer to leave their eyes open will continue until their eyes gradually close, and their concentration and calm ( samadhi ) increases.
- Mindfulness with Breathing : First steps, by Buddhadasa Bhikku -
[ Sati is a key term in Buddhist meditation . It means “ memory, memory, awareness, attention, mindfulness. ”All this concerns the present and does not involve thinking. In this article, the activity of sati is transmitted through a variety of verbs: fix, observe, assist, pay attention, be aware, experiment. (Sati does not mean " focus or focus .") Please examine these words and their meaning in each context, then you will possess the correct understanding of sati, that is, what it is and how it is used to free yourself from dukkha. ]
Mindfulness with Breathing: Breathing
At the beginning (and only at the beginning, for a few minutes, not eternally!), To facilitate the observation of the breath, try to breathe as deeply as you can. It forces the air to enter and exit strongly several times. Do it to know clearly with what it rubs and makes contact with the air as it enters and leaves along its path. To make it simple, look where it seems to end up in your abdomen (taking physical sensations as a measure rather than anatomical reality ). Observe this as simply as possible, enough to set the end points of entry and exit of your breath. Don't be too strict with this .
Most people will feel that the air comes into contact at the tip of the nose, and they should take that point as the end of the exit . (In people with more flat noses or upwards they will feel that the air comes into contact with the upper lip limit, and they should take that point as the end of the exit.) That way, you now have the entry and exit points, fixed one at the tip of the nose and the other at the navel. The breath will move back and forth between these two points. Here you must do from your mind that which pursues or stalks the breath, like a tiger or a spy, not willing to separate from it for a moment, following each breath for the duration of the meditation. This is the first step of the practice. We call it "chasing (or stalking) constantly."
- Mindfulness with Breathing : First steps, by Buddhadasa Bhikku -
Earlier we said that you start by breathing as deeply as possible, as strong and vigorous as possible, several times from the beginning. Do it to be able to find the points of the beginning and end, and the path that the breath follows between them. Once the mind (or sati) can capture and fix the inhalation and exhalation - being constantly attentive to how the air touches and flows, where it ends and how it returns outward or inward - you can begin to gradually relax the breath until it becomes normal, without forcing or forcing it in any way. Be careful: don't force it or control it at all! Silently, sati looks at her breath all the time, as she did before when she was vigorous and strong.
Mindfulness with Breathing: Attention
Sati is able to pay attention to the entire breath path from the inner end point (the navel or the base of the abdomen) to the outer end point (the tip of the nose or the upper lip boundary). Beyond the delicate and gentle breathing, sati can observe it clearly all the time. If it happens that we cannot observe (or feel) the breath because it is too soft or thin, then breathe harder again. (But not as strong or vigorous as before, just enough to observe it clearly.) Fix your attention on the breath again, until sati becomes aware of it all the time. Make sure you can do it correctly, that is, keep practicing until the most ordinary and forced breathing can be observed naturally. No matter how deep or short, feel it. No matter how heavy or light it may be, feel it. Feel it clearly in that moment of awareness, while sati simply stays close and keeps breathing coming and going all the time while you meditate. When you manage to do this it means success at the level of preparation known as " constantly chasing ."
- Mindfulness with Breathing : First steps, by Buddhadasa Bhikku -
[ Don't try to eliminate other things from consciousness, that will only create tension. Just keep your attention focused on breathing in a balanced way. Let go of everything that takes your breath away. ]
The lack of success is due to the inability of sati (or attention) to be breathing all the time. You do not know when you lose track. You do not know when you run to home, work or games. You don't know until it's gone. And you don't know when he left, how, why or anything else. When you notice what has happened, catch your breath again, gently bring it back to your breath and train until you succeed at this level. Do it for at least ten minutes each session, before moving on to the next step.
Mindfulness with Breathing: Second Step
The next step, the second level of preparation, is called waiting for (or monitoring) the ambush at a point . It is better to practice this second step only after the first step can be done correctly, although anyone who can jump directly to the second will not be scolded. At this point, sati (or the memory) lies on hold waiting for a certain point and stops chasing your breath .
Note the sensation when the air enters your body completely (towards the navel or surroundings) once, then let it go. Next time, notice the sensation when the air comes into contact with the other end point (the tip of the nose) once more, then let it go until you contact the point inner end (navel) again.
Continue this way without changing anything. In the moments of letting go the mind does not disperse and returns home, the field, the office or any other place. This means that sati pays attention to both end points inside and outside and does not pay attention to anything in the middle.
Mindfulness with Breathing: First steps, by Buddhadasa Bhikku
When you can calmly come and go between both endpoints without paying attention to what is in between, let the inner point go and concentrate only on the outside, that is, on the tip of your nose. Whether the breath comes into contact with that point when entering or exiting, observe it every time . This is known as watching the door . There is a sensation when the air enters or leaves, the rest of the way is left blank or still. If you achieve a firm conscience at the tip of your nose, the breath will become increasingly calm and quiet. So you cannot feel movements more than at that point. In the spaces where it is blank or still, when you cannot feel anything, the mind does not flee home or anywhere else. The ability to do this correctly is the success at the preparation level waiting for the ambush at a point .
The lack of success is when the mind runs away without you knowing it. It does not return to the door as it should, or after entering, the breath is chased all the way inside. All these errors occur when the blank or still moments are incorrect or incomplete. You have not done it correctly since the beginning of this step. Therefore, you must practice carefully, solidly, expertly from the start.
Mindfulness with Breathing: Overcoming obstacles
Not even the first step is easy for everyone. Even when one manages to do so, the results - both physical and mental - go beyond expectations . So you should become able to do it, and do it consistently, until it becomes a game like the sports you enjoy practicing. If you only have two minutes, go and practice. Breathe vigorously, if your bones hurt or rattle it is even better . Breathe vigorously until you whistle, a little noise won't hurt you. Then begin to relax and gradually relieve it until you find its natural level .
The daily breathing of most people is not natural or normal, but more rough or severe than normal, without us noticing (*). Especially when we do certain activities or find ourselves in some positions that are limiting to us, our breathing is more or less slow than it should be, only we don't notice it. Then you should start with a strong and vigorous breath at first, then relax it until it becomes natural.
- Mindfulness with Breathing: First steps, by Buddhadasa Bhikku -
In this way, you will end up with a breath that is the " midpoint ", or the correct one. That breath returns to the natural, normal and healthy body . And it is the right breath to use as an object of meditation at the beginning of anapanasati (**). Let us emphasize that this first step of preparation should be practiced until it is only a natural game for everyone, in all their circumstances. This will bring numerous physical and mental benefits.
[ * In fact, our breathing tends not to be healthy, which contributes to many physical and mental problems. Please learn to breathe freely and naturally. ]
[ ** " Anapanasati " is the Pali term for the practice of mindfulness with breathing (the same object of this essay.) ]
Mindfulness with Breathing: Differences between both steps
In fact, the difference between " constantly chasing " and " waiting for the ambush at one point " is not so great. The last one is a little more relaxed and subtle, that is, the area observed by sati decreases. To make this easier to understand, we will use the babysitter analogy by rocking the baby's crib . At first, when the baby has just been placed in the crib, he is not asleep and tries to leave. At this point, the babysitter should observe the crib carefully . While the crib moves from one side to the other, you must observe it so you do not lose sight of the baby for a moment. Once the baby begins to fall asleep and stops wanting to leave the crib, the babysitter has no more need to observe the coming and going of the crib, while it is rocking. He only watches her when he passes in front of his sight, which is enough. Observing only at one point while the cradle is rocking before it, the baby will not be able to leave the cradle as before, since he is ready to sleep. (Although the baby must fall asleep, the meditator should not do it !)
The first step of preparation watching the breath - " constantly chasing " - is like when the babysitter must follow the cradle that rocks without losing sight of it for a moment. The second stage when breathing is observed at the tip of the nose - " waiting for the ambush at one point " - is when the baby is ready to sleep and the babysitter observes the crib only when it passes before your sight.
Mindfulness with Breathing: Advancing in practice
When you have practiced and trained completely in this second step, you can move forward in your practice by making the area observed by sati even more subtle and gentle until there is a simple and stable concentration. Then the concentration can be deepened step by step until one of the jhanas (*) is achieved, which, for most people, is beyond the simple concentration of the first steps. The jhanas are a refined and precise matter with more stringent requirements and subtle principles. One must be very interested and committed to reach that level of practice . At this point, just keep constantly interested in the basic steps until they become familiar and ordinary. Then you can inquire later at the highest levels.
[ * The jhanas are one-point-of-focus states that result from a highly developed concentration that becomes introspective. In them one is only aware of a particular object and specific mental factors. ]
Mindfulness with Breathing: Final Meditations
That those normal lay people give themselves the opportunity to meditate in a way that can offer many physical and mental benefits, and that will satisfy the basic needs of our practice, before advancing to more important questions. It's hard. That you can train with these first steps to be fully equipped with sila (moral), samadhi (concentration), and panna (wisdom), that is, be completely based on the Noble Path of the Eight Branches . Even if it is only the beginning, this is better than not moving anywhere. Your body will become healthier and more peaceful than usual if you train successively high levels of samadhi.
You will discover something that everyone should find in order not to waste the opportunity of being born.
AUTHOR: Lucas, editor of the great family of hermandadblanca.org
SOURCE: Mindfulness with Breathing: Getting started, by Buddhadasa Bhikku
MORE INFORMATION: www.buddhanet.net