Sunday, July 7, 2019

Right now

I am interested in breathing, in continuing to breath and to learn about breathing as a tool in meditation and self-control and self-knowledge. I first learned about getting close to one's self thru Benson's "The Relaxation Response" and Gallwey's "The Inner Game of Tennis".  I needed to learn to keep my attention anchored and I chose a visual anchor.

But later, I learned that concentrating on the breath was an old idea and that doing so had some real advantages.  After reading for a while, closing and resting my eyes feels very good. I also read Gay Hendrick's "Conscious Breathing" and Larry Rosenberg's "Breath by Breath".  I read about square or box breathing, where I inhale for a count of 4, hold for count of 4, exhale for 4 and hold for 4. I read Andrew Weil's advice to use a count of 4 on the inhale, hold for 7 and exhale for 8.  I have read about the large and central vagus nerve in the body and how it is helped with an inhale of 4 and an exhale of 8.

Reading Rosenberg, I learned about his trip to Korea to practice with Korean Buddhists.  The group was to practice meditation from 3 AM to 11PM for 90 days straight. That seems too rigorous to me.  So, when I read that that group was going to spend a solid week without sleeping, I thought the idea was REALLY over the top!  

The problem was that, in addition to my fatigue, I was carrying around an extra burden: the concept of seven days without sleep. I would be able to get through the week, he said, if I would put that burden down, if I took every activity moment by moment, breath by breath, giving full attention to whatever it was. Every sitting period, every walking period, every break, every meal. Just stay in the moment, and I would be fine.

He was right. The week was still difficult—I actually got to a point where I was hallucinating—but I was able to get through it. My concentration increased dramatically, as did my confidence in sitting. As our presence in meditation deepens, we actually need less sleep. I myself don't use such practices in my teaching; they are brutal on the body,

Rosenberg, Larry. Breath by Breath (Shambhala Classics) (pp. 27-28). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

This business reminds me of Eckhart Tolle and his emphasis on the NOW.  I guess a person can concentrate on Now, just Now and get through a great deal.

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