Breathing

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Breathing is the process that moves air in and out of the lungs.

Quotes[edit]

  • A bhikkhu, having gone to the forest, or to the foot of a tree, or to an empty, solitary place, sits down cross-legged, keeping his body erect, and directs his mindfulness. Then only with keen mindfulness he breathes in and only with keen mindfulness he breathes out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows, "I breathe in a long breath"; breathing out a long breath, he knows, "I breathe out a long breath"; breathing in a short breath, he knows, "I breathe in a short breath"; breathing out a short breath, he knows, "I breathe out a short breath"; "Aware of the whole breath body, I shall breathe in", thus he trains himself; "Aware of the whole breath body, I shall breathe out", thus he trains himself. "Calming the process of breathing, I shall breathe in", thus he trains himself; "Calming the process of breathing, I shall breathe out", thus he trains himself.
  • The human brain performs the function of thinking as involuntarily as the chest the function of breathing. However, we can, by our will, stop breathing for a while, and accelerate or retard the breathing movements. In the same way, the will can control the thoughts. We may choose any object as the subject matter of our thought, and yet we may quickly convince ourselves that the power of our will and the freedom of the mind are not any greater than the freedom of the chest in breathing.
    • Joseph Dietzgen, Letters on Logic: Especially Democratic-Proletarian Logic (1906), Letter 2
  • The old dispute about the relative virtues of the active way and the contemplative way is a spurious one. We require both. They are phases of a single rhythm like the pulsing of the heart, the in-drawing and letting go of breath, the ebb and flow of the tides. So we go deep, deep inwards in meditation to consolidate our vital energy, and then, with greater love and wisdom, we come out into the family, the community, the world.
  • I would like to offer one short poem you can recite from time to time, while breathing and smiling:
    Breathing in, I calm my body.
    Breathing out, I smile.
    Dwelling in the present moment
    I know this is a wonderful moment.
  • I know of families where children go into a room like that after breakfast, sit down and breathe ten times, in-out-one, in-out-two, in-out-three, ten times, and then they go to school. This is a very beautiful practice. If your child doesn't wish to breathe ten times, how about three times? Beginning the day with being a Buddha is a very nice way to start the day.
  • I have a friend who, whenever he becomes agitated, enters the breathing room in his home. He sits down respectfully, breathes in and out three times, invites the bell to sound, and recites the gatha. Immediately he feels better. If he needs to sit longer, he stays there. From time to time, while his wife is preparing dinner, she hears the sound of the bell, and it reminds her to be mindful in her work. At such times, she deeply appreciates her husband. "He is so wonderful, quite different from others. He knows how to deal with anger." If she has been irritated, her own resentment subsides. Sometimes she stops cutting vegetables and goes into the breathing room to sit with him. This picture is so lovely, more beautiful than an expensive painting.
  • Doing things in this way has a good effect on everyone, teaching by example, not just with words. When your child is agitated, you don't have to say, "Go to that room!" You can take his or her hand and walk together into the room for breathing, and sit quietly together. This is the best education for peace. It is really beautiful to begin the day by being a Buddha. Each time we feel ourselves about to leave our Buddha, we can sit and breathe until we return to our true self.
  • There are three things I can recommend to you: arranging to have a breathing room in your home, a room for meditation; practicing breathing, sitting, for a few minutes every morning at home with your children; and going out for a slow walking meditation with your children before going to sleep, just ten minutes is enough. These things are very important. They can change our civilization.
  • When, in Insight-practice, the meditator has achieved some skill up to the stage of Calming, he will, in due course, become aware of the fact that two processes are involved here: the physical process (rūpa) of breathing or abdominal movement, and the mental process (nāma) of knowing it. ... If the awareness of these two processes has become strong through repetition, they will present themselves regularly as a pairwise progression of physical and mental phenomena: breathing, knowing, breathing, knowing, ...
    • Nyanaponika, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, pp. 111-112
  • Conscious breathing, which is a powerful meditation in its own right, will gradually put you in touch with the body. Follow the breath with your attention as it moves in and out of your body. Breathe into the body, and feel your abdomen expanding and contracting slightly with each inhalation and exhalation. If you find it easy to visualize, close your eyes and see yourself surrounded by light or immersed in a luminous substance - a sea of consciousness. Then breathe in that light. Feel that luminous substance filling up your body and making it luminous also.
  • Another portal into the Unmanifested is created through the cessation of thinking. This can start with a very simple thing, such as taking one conscious breath or looking, in a state of intense alertness, at a flower, so that there is no mental commentary running at the same time... to create a gap in the incessant stream of thought. This is what meditation is all about.
  • Many people's breath is unnaturally shallow. The more you are aware of the breath, the more its natural depth will reestablish itself. Because breath has no form as such, it has since ancient times been equated with spirit the formless one Life. “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7. The German word for breathing – atmen – is derived from the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) word Atman, meaning the indwelling divine spirit or God within.
  • [Breathing] is an excellent meditation object precisely because it is not an object; has no shape or form. The other reason is that breath is one of the most subtle and seemingly insignificant phenomena, the “least thing” that according to Nietzsche makes up the “best happiness.” ...Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment – the key to all inner transformation.
    • Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (2005)
  • Be aware of your breathing.  Notice the sensation of the breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body.  Notice how the chest and abdomen expand and contract slightly with the in- and outbreath.   One conscious breath is enough to make some space where before there was the uninterrupted succession of one thought after another. One conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day, is an excellent way of bringing space into your life.

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