In Vipassana meditation, we are taught to focus on our breath and observe the mind. But I am beginning to see that there is so much more to this practice than first meets the eye.
At the onset, we are to observes the Three Marks of Existence. Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (dissatisfaction/suffering), and Anatta (no-self). But certainly we cannot just sit down and instantly comprehend this fully.
Yet in the breath, there is a great deal of awareness that can come about with mindful observance and discipline. First of all, there are the four elements of nature. Earth, Fire, Water and Air all exist within each breath. Noticing the weight of our legs against the ground is the earth, the moist air as it enters our nostrils is the water, the gentle breeze as it caresses our skin is the air, and the warmth of our exhale is fire.
But these are only a few ways that we can observe the four elements as we meditate. And with mindful awareness and attention you can discover there are so many more.
In observing these elements, we can see clearly that we do not control or own these elements. We can observe the impermanence of each of these as they come and go, changing in physical sensation and mental perception.
But still there is much more to observe.
As we observe the breath, the inhale and the exhale, we can observe our body. The feelings that occur with each part of the breath. There is a beginning, a middle and an end to each inhale and exhale.
As we inhale, notice your entire body grasping for oxygen to fill your lungs. Paying attention to the physical sensations of needing this air for your life. Then be aware that we cannot hold onto this breath, we cannot keep it. There is a point at the top of that inhale where we understand we must let go of this clinging, this desire. So we exhale with a sense of relief and peace. Noticing too how our physical body reacts to this sensation. How wonderful is that feeling to let go, the freedom of non-attrachment. Do not try to think of what moment is next, simply observe this present moment. The lesson is right there, not in the previous one or the coming one.
Soon enough you will be at the bottom of your exhale, the physical sensations of relaxation are instantly changed to one of desire. Your lungs are empty, your body requires oxygen, and again we reach for the breath.
Are you beginning to see the samsara in this life? Can you see the anicca, dukkha and anatta?
This practice is one of determination and diligence. It is about training our minds to be more present and observant. Each of us must do this at our own pace, with loving friendliness, compassion and acceptance. Always remembering that without these feelings toward ourself, we can not offer this to others.
I suggest you be patient and kind to yourself, and remain determined and faithful in your practice.
May you find peace and happiness, and may others be the recipient of your good nature and wholesome acts.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.