After a month long period of working on creating a new spiritual zen and yoga program, focusing on teaching gentle breath awareness has been wonderful . . . and mainly because awe and wonder come as always in remembering and entering into the beginner’s mind, as we are continually supposed to as zen teachers.
Personally, I love the concepts of Buddha Nature, Nirvana or the Bliss State, the stillness of the Ultimate Mind of the Divine which accepts us totally – and the Mother of the Breath which breathes all of us and breathes life force energy into us. One breath, One mind.
We can live for quite a long time without food, water or sleep – but our life is cut short quickly without breath. With breath we connect, we nourish, we flow and we find peace. Spiritually we say our breath “touches eternity”. We thrive.
Lao Tsu: I know this to be true for I have looked within myself
Air can be the finest tonic to the soul. And Ayurveda in its practice of elements, guides us that air needs space to move in – so breath needs to flow into us to fill the spaces within . . . breath and joy co-exist in Yoga. And with zen we know breathing in zazen zen meditation practice brings us a great rest and a great joy.
The practice of zen meditation and yoga take a few minutes of your day to focus on the essential act of breathing.
A relaxation with slow breathing as in a Yoga Nidra, is a relaxation of the mundane, conscious mind and intended to bring the sweetness of relaxation to your mind and body so you can experience the joy in your practice.
A long walk, a set of exercises can also bring our attention to bringing oxygen back into our systems. There’s no need to join a gym or embark on a grueling workout regime that can never be incorporated into our daily life. Simply take a quiet moment in a favorite chair or a stroll around the block, with only the word “in” and “out” in your head as you breathe.
Let’s get into some simple daily practice here with this short practice video: my 10 minute Gentle Calm with Rainsticks . . . as you listen to the rhythm of the rainsticks, breathe with the flow.
So, okay some reasons to breathe are:
Breathing in takes no effort . . . that is so Zen. So in tune with Osho, the Zen Master’s contribution to both zen and Yoga – relaxed effortlessness! The inbreath just happens as the breath breathes you – atmosphere makes it happen as air has to flow in to fill space within. And as the Buddha said: “you can just let short breaths be short breaths, and long breaths be long . . .” One of the most powerful reasons to learn to breathe with our practice as far as I’m concerned, is for the relaxation because this builds so much inner confidence.
Breathing makes you feel light . . . because you’re breathing in light – and it makes you feel happy enough if you do enough controlled practice of it . . . for happiness, focus on heart chakra breathing.
Breathing makes you feel strong . . . and of course, I’m talking about controlled breathing practice with awareness on the breath and breath flow. The ancient Yogis learned that they could control and master the emotions with the breath and they passed this knowledge onto the zen masters . . . and you will need to control your own tidal waves of emotions to follow your heaven or bliss with your spirit!
Breathing may be simple, but it’s powerful – controlled use of the outbreaths releases toxins, helping you balance your inner subtle energies. Control of the breath releases tension from the “pain body” and trains your brain that you are in control.