An inspiring and wonderful dhamma talk on putting all our focus and attention on the breath in meditation practice.
”Don’t tell yourself you’ve got a whole hour to sit here. Just tell yourself you’ve got this breath: this breath coming in, this breath going out. That’s all there is: this breath. As for the breaths for the rest of the hour, don’t even think of them right now. Pay attention to them when they come. When they go, you’re done with them. There’s only this breath.
Your meditation needs that kind of focus if you’re going to see anything clearly. This attitude also helps to cut through a lot of the garbage at the beginning of the meditation. You may have experience from the past of how long it takes for the mind to settle down. But by now you should have a sense of where the mind goes when it settles down. Why can’t you go there right now?
Once you’re there with the breath, and you can get your balance, try to maintain balance. Again, it’s just this breath, this breath. See what you can do with this breath. Welcome it as an opportunity for making things better. How deep can it go, how good can it feel? How much of your attention can you give to it?
Ordinarily, the mind is like a command post where you’re receiving information from all directions about all sorts of different things, and it has a tendency to reserve some attention from what you’re trying to focus on right now in case an emergency comes up. But while you’re meditating you want to bring all of your attention to the breath. Don’t hold anything in reserve. If you find any part of your mind or body that’s not connected with the breath, well, get it connected. Add it on. Let the connected parts build up as much as they can with each breath.
The more fully you can be in the present moment, the better. One moment of full attention is better than a whole hour of just drifting around. Of course, a whole hour of full attention is better than just one moment, but you can’t do the whole hour at once. You can only do this moment, so give yourself fully to this moment. Don’t hold anything back.”
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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May all breathing things be happy and safe,
May their hearts and minds be filled with joy,
Whatever living beings there may be,
May all beings, without exception, find inner peace and happiness.
To tell yourself that you have a whole hour just to sit here, just tell yourself you got this breath. This breath coming in. This breath going out. It’s all there is. This breath. As for the breaths for the rest of the hour, don’t even think about them right now. Pay attention to them when they come, when they go. You’re done with them. There’s only this breath. Your meditation needs that kind of focus if you’re going to see anything clearly. And this attitude also helps cut through a lot of the garbage at the beginning of the meditation. You may have experienced in the past how long it takes for the mind to settle down. But you should have a sense of where the mind goes, when it does settle down, why can’t you go there right now. What you do with the breath, then trying to maintain that balance. Thing is just this breath. This breath. And see what you can do with this breath. How deep it can go. How good it can feel. How much of your attention can we get to it? ___, come like a command post where we receive all information from all different sort of things. And has this tendency to reserve some of the attention to other things, aside from what you’re trying to focus on right now. And what you want to do as you’re meditating is to bring all your attention to the breath. So if you find any part of the mind or the body that’s not connected with the breath, well, get it connected. Add it on. Let it build up as much as you can with each breath. The more fully you can be in the present moment, the better. One moment of full intention is better than whole hour of just drifting around. And of course, the whole hour of full intention is better than just one moment, but you can’t do the whole hour all at once. You can just do the one moment, so give yourself full attention at this moment.
Don’t hold anything back. It’s quality in the text is called ___. It’s one of the basis for success. Giving the breath your full attention. Not saving part of your attention for the next breath. Just everything for this breath. After all, it’s what Buddha says. How do you know how much longer you’re going to live? It’s the ___. He asked the monks, how often do you remind yourself of death every day? And one monk says, I remind myself that if I have one more day to live, I can do a lot in terms of the practice. And someone else says, if I have half a day to live, I could do a lot in terms of the practice, and it goes down, and down, and down to finally get to ___. To keep telling myself, if I have one more breath to live, I can do a lot for the practice. And the ___ says, that’s the person who’s uncomplacent. ___ says, ___ complacent.
What this means in one breath, you got everything you need to focus on everything you need to do a lot in terms of the practice. If we let the practice get automatic without giving our full attention, this breath comes and then the breath goes. We didn’t get much out of any of them. They can somehow, we can make up in terms of many breaths for the fact that we didn’t. Fully pay attention to anyone particular breath very much. It’s like presenting an argument. Some people think that if they can present 50 weak arguments, that comes up to one good argument. Or 50 weak reasons, for something that comes up to one good reason, but it doesn’t. What you need is really one good reason. One really good argument ___. And it’s the same with the meditation. One really good breath, one really intently experienced breath. Fully experienced breath. And will show you a lot more than an hour or two of superficially ___ breaths. ___, we’re just skimming across the surface hoping to get to the end of the hour. Trying to immerse yourself. The word ___, mindfulness immersed in the body. The word ___ there means immersed. Like someone sitting. Immersed in darkness. I forgot what the word for darkness is, but it ends with the ___, the same way.
___, thoroughly surround yourself with breath. Be aware of all breaths on all sides. In that way, you don’t have room to hold anything back. And things begin to open up in the body. Things begin to open up in the mind. Sometimes, you can begin to detect that this is in the physical sense of somehow you’re pulling yourself back to your body, or you’ve been doing that. Pulling yourself back from being thoroughly immersed in the present moment. Saving part of yourself or something else. Close your meditating, let go of all that sense and let yourself jump in the present moment in the same way you jump into a big pool of water, because everything you need to know for the purpose of awakening is right here. And if you hold back, that means you’re missing some of the elements. So, ___, you can turn right here, right now, this is all there is. The right here. The right now. This breath. This breath. If you see any thoughts arising in the mind about how much longer we are going to be sitting here, or how long we happen to sit here, just let them blow away. Think of the breath going right through you. Not giving them any space to land. Then, you’ll find that as you stay fully immersed in the breath like this, a lot of the good qualities that you want to develop in the practice come along without you having to think about them. You don’t have to worry about directed thought.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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