Tuesday, September 15, 2020


 Bored with the breath? Getting too serious in your attention to it? Not looking forward to your sit?

That's how I found myself this morning. It's actually how I've been finding myself with meditation generally in recent days, but this morning I stumbled into a solution: play time! Have some fun with the breath! Take some pleasure in it!

So I worked (played!) through this meditation...

Those first few introductory breaths you use to settle in, make them delicious. Make them deeply pleasurable. Let them enliven every part of the body with delectable awareness. Inside, it can feel like a gentle massage. Outside, a full body caress.

Settle into thoughts of goodwill with that same awareness. Use the breath to spread feelings of goodwill for yourself throughout the body. Let that compassion permeate every molecule, every cell. Then let it radiate out, with pleasure as well as goodwill, to that familiar circle: first family and close friends; those you know well and like; those you know less well and feel more neutral about; those you dislike (your animosity poisons only yourself!); people you don't even know, people everywhere; and not only people, radiate goodwill to all living beings.

Bring that sense of pleasure to every part of the body as you shift your attention along the familiar path: navel and belly (give yourself a comfortable Buddha belly!), sternum and sides, chest cavity and heart (a special joy emanating from the heart!), head, neck and down the arms, back and down the legs. Find some silly or unfamiliar places to occupy your attention as you go: big toes, armpits, the space between brain and cranium. Then put it all together and let the whole body breathe.

Now's the time to allow yourself to get playful with the breath. Try taking a ridiculously long one, or a ridiculously short one, or alternate between the two. Allow yourself a smile at the absurdity of excess. Explore the possibilities of play, teasing yourself with the length or shortness of each breath, its depth or shallowness, its speed or slowness. Imagine the breath as a child out on the playground, with swings and slides, seesaws, ropes to climb on. Imagine yourself as the proud mom or dad, sitting quietly, looking on with the smile of a proud parent... 

Or... and/or... returning the attention to full body breathing, imagine yourself a gourmet (or wine connoisseur!) of the breath. Think of each breath as having its particular, individual taste, aroma, texture, no breath like the one before nor the one that follows after, and each one more exquisitely delicious than the last. Attune your attention to the tiniest of details, the subtlest of differences as you relish its special flavor. 

Each time the attention wanders off, bring it back to the sheer, simple pleasure of the breath. Each time it starts to get serious or heavy, bring it back to that sense of play. Each time you feel your facial features tighten into a frown, allow the smile to return to your lips. And remind yourself that nothing could be more pleasurable than this quiet, this rhythm, this recurring sense of relaxation and peace.

And before leaving meditation, be sure to radiate the pleasure out and share it with others, especially those you know to be suffering in their lives. May all share in the simple pleasure I have generated, may all living beings find happiness in their hearts.

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