In Praise of the Longest Breath

As meditators, we are used to focusing our attention on the breath and carefully examining its qualities as a way of calming the mind and cultivating mindfulness.

Our samatha practice is based on the observation of our breath. We control its length while letting it flow as naturally as possible. Noticing its physical peculiarities, we become involved with it.

A breath's journey to the heart

To come to the heart,
Go, find a breath.
Ride with it lightly,
Let it become subtler,
Go further, draw back gently the curtains of mist.
Let the day be warm,
And the breath know its own paths.
Don't fall away as the breath turns,
Neither move at speed nor go too slowly
As one breath moves towards another.
Make the transition smooth,
Go easy but not too much.
Explore the space but don't lose your bearings.
Pay attention,
Make the breath finer, and still more,

Waking up the Breath

"Monks, mindfulness of breathing in and breathing out, if cultivated and made much of, is of great fruit and of great advantage. How is it to be cultivated?

In this way, monks, a monk cultivates the enlightenment factor of mindfulness, accompanied by mindfulness of breathing in and breathing out, which tends towards seclusion, which tends towards freedom from passion, which tends towards cessation and which results in great happiness.

Breath and Breathing

Breath, and breathing.
   In breath, out breath.
     Slight pause between breaths.
       Long breath, short breath.
         Longest, longer, shorter, shortest;
           normal breath (what is your normal breath?)

              Slow breath, quick breath.
               Smooth breath, jerky breath.
                 Easy breath, stiff breath.
                  Relaxed breath, tense breath.
                    Relaxing breath, tensing breath.
                      Coarse breath, fine breath, subtle breath.

Only breath

I fell in love again today-
again, it was a surprise,
the catch in the throat
the sharp sniff of subtle promise.
I fell in love with breath and she with me,
for at the moment of falling
there was nothing but breathing:
trees, creatures, grass, water,
sun, clouds, leaves, even stones
all the breath that breathed me
lovingly, gently, fully, delightingly.
Like the finest wine, softest silk,
filling, looping, spurling, flowing.
And as she's tender with me, so I with her,
carefully tending her, relishing each move,

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