The Koan of Breathing

Breathing with your whole body is a lesson in letting go

Continued from page 2

Playing with balance, relaxing the body by surrendering its weight to gravity, opening to the possibility of feeling sensation in every cell of the body, letting go of tension in the body and contraction in the mind, opening to the subtle motions that want to occur in the body even as you sit silently on your cushion: these are the rules of thumb, the guiding principles that you want to keep circling back to over and over and over again as you explore the koan to breathe through the whole body. Each on its own implies or leads directly to the others. Explored in concert, they can have a powerfully catalyzing effect on the process of meditation.

Remember: breathing through the whole body is not some kind of calisthenic exercise; it is a koan to guide you as you sit down to meditate, a seed possibility that gradually takes root, grows, and matures over time.

Will Johnson is the author of Rumi's Four Essential Practices, The Sailfish and the Sacred Mountain, Yoga of the Mahamudra, and the award-winning The Spiritual Practices of Rumi.  He is also co-author, with translator Nevit Ergin, of The Forbidden Rumi and The Rubais of Rumi.  He lives in British Columbia. www.embodiment.net

Breathing through the Whole BodyBreathing through the Whole Body: The Buddha's Instructions on Integrating Mind, Body, and Breath

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Related Topics: Breath, Breathe, Breathing, Zen, Buddhism

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