Oakville Zen Meditation

#127 Awareness, sensation and meanings of breathing

                                                       Awareness, sensation and meanings of breathing

 When a monkey is screaming non-stop, the zookeepers try to distract him, usually with a banana or a toy.

When your monkey mind is on a non-stop talkative mode, you should try to distract him and divert his attention by forcing him to focus on something else. The best diversion is also a banana...well...sort of.

Ask him to focus on your in- and- out breathing. Your monkey mind will stop talking for, at least, few moments. This is the principle behind meditation. You tell your mind:

That’s enough stupid monkey mind, instead of talking non-stop, pay attention to my breathing and shut-up”.

Being incapable of dealing with two thoughts at the same time that is breathing and wandering, the mind will pay attention to your breathing, hopefully for few minutes.

Awareness, sensation and meaning of breathing:

Breath comes from the Greek word pneuma, meaning breath of life. In its spiritual meaning, it means soul or spirit or consciousness.

First, pay attention to the relaxing sensation of your breathing.

Feel the air moving gently in and out of your body. Notice how the chest and abdomen expand and contract slightly with each move. Appreciate the freshness of the air flowing through your throat.

Our breathing, like all of our vital functions is an unconscious activity. Yet, it is the only one that we can control and, therefore, modify its pattern - frequency and deepness- without difficulty.

One conscious in-out breath is enough to make space between our usual uninterrupted successions of thoughts.

It is like pressing on the pause or mute button of our mind.

The meaning of this innocent exercise – breathing- has a significant spiritual meaning besides being a vital function for survival.

When you breathe in, a tiny part of the universe is going in your body and becomes part of you.

When you breath-out, a tiny part of you is going back to the universe and becomes part of it.

Just from breathing only, we are sharing and exchanging zillions of molecules with the vast universe around 14,000 times every day.

If we add our daily food and water we realize that each of us is an on going and integral material part of the universe and not a separate and independent entity as we think. It is also telling us and that the universe is also composed of material bits of all living and non-living entities. This sharing lasts all your life.

Zen Buddhist Scriptures said this thousand years ago “There is nothing in the universe that is not part of you and there is nothing in you which is not part of the universe”.

For Christian believers who believe that the universe is God himself, Jesus said the same thing You are in me and I am in you” John 14:20.

However, we are sharing more than material stuff with the universe:

Besides equating our own material components with the material components of universe, there is probably no reason not to equate our own personal immaterial entity such as consciousness with the possible universal consciousness that A. Einstein, The Dalai Lama and many more Nobel Prices and spiritual leaders are referring to.

Why should we pay attention to our breathing?

Paying attention of our breathing few times during the day during the day is an excellent and wonderful way to bring peace to your restless mind. In fact it is the only one action besides formal meditation and paying attention to the present moment.

Being aware of your breath for a short duration is forcing your mind to comply with what you are doing. It has no other choice.

Therefore, instead of being trapped by our thoughts and feelings all day long, we can reverse the process and freeze their turbulent flow at least for few seconds if not minutes.

Being automatic, breathing is not something that you do intentionally but rather something that you witness as it happens. No thinking, no feeling, no judgment, no analysis, no decision, just watch it and feel it.

There is no strain or effort involved except for the mind to focus on it.

Witnessing our breathing is pure awareness. Pure awareness is consciousness and consciousness is our genuine innate and true self beyond and above thinking.

Final words:

By learning to pay attention to your in-out breathing, you will feel trillion of tiny material fragments of the universe coming inside your body-mind and trillion of them leaving you to rejoin the infinite space-time.

This is a wonderful endless cycle of universal life that we belong to.

It has been proven that the universe is made only of 5% matter and 95% “non-matter”.

Like the Universe from which we are coming and going back, we are also made of material and immaterial worlds such as thoughts, emotions and, above them, consciousness.

Therefore, one may realize and accept that we are sharing and exchanging with the universe not only material stuff but also immaterial entities.

This immaterial true self, also called BEING by many is genuine consciousness taking different, transient and individual material forms according to the needs.

These transient individual material forms are all living beings and are characterized by an acquired ego-driven body-mind defining our “little self”

Remember this:

From birth to death and contrary to each body-mind which are very different, your consciousness never changes and is identical to  all living beings.No one can say that Jo's consciousness is different from Carmen's one even if their bodies and thinking are different. Trying to understand and describe consciousness using thinking does not make sense since consciousness is required to think in the first place. Hydrogen is needed to make water but water cannot explain hydrogen. Or: one cannot see her/his own eyes without a mirror.

This is what most spiritual scriptures have been saying for zillions of years and what Quantum physic is starting to reveal.