It helps to have a focus for your attention, an anchor line to tether you to the present moment and to guide you back when the mind wanders. The breath serves this purpose exceedingly well. It can be a true ally. Bringing awareness to our breathing, we remind ourselves that we are here now, so we might as well be fully awake for whatever is already happening.
Our breathing can help us in capturing our moments. It’s surprising that more people don’t know about this. After all, the breath is always here, right under our noses. You would think just by chance we might have come across its usefulness at one point or another. We even have the phrase, “I didn’t have a moment to breathe” (or “to catch my breath”) to give us a hint that moments and breathing might be connected in an interesting way.
To use your breathing to nurture mindfulness, just tune in to the feeling of it… the feeling of the breath coming into your body and the feeling of the breath leaving your body. That’s all. Just feeling the breath. Breathing and knowing that you’re breathing. This doesn’t mean deep breathing or forcing your breathing, or trying to feel something special, or wondering whether you’re doing it right. It doesn’t mean thinking about your breathing, either. It’s just a bare bones awareness of the breath moving in and the breath moving out.
It doesn’t have to be for a long time at any one stretch. Using the breath to bring us back to the present moment takes no time at all, only a shift in attention. But great adventures await you if you give yourself a little time to string moments of awareness together, breath by breath, moment to moment.
TRY: Staying with one full inbreath as it comes in, one full outbreath as it goes out, keeping your mind open and free for just this moment, just this breath. Abandon all ideas of getting somewhere or having anything happen. Just keep returning to the breath when the mind wanders, stringing moments of mindfulness together, breath by breath. Try it every once in a while as you read this book.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.
… as you read this book
(whereof this is page 21)
… or during any activity.