2020-08-30 Mindfulness of Breathing (7 of 7) Exuberant Joy
2:49PM Aug 30, 2020
So over the years that someone does mindfulness practice, there are many benefits that come from it. And there's many benefits that come from mindfulness of breathing. The Buddha said mindfulness of breathing brings brings great fruit and great benefit. Many fruits and many benefits. And it's quite rewarding, satisfying, over the years of doing mindfulness of breathing, to begin discovering all the ways in which it supports our lives, all the ways in which it becomes a mirror for ourselves and help us help us to see ourselves more deeply. How it helps us to become more focused and concentrated and we're doing to develop focus and concentration on breathing, or any kind of meditative concentration and focus makes us available for daily life to really stay focused on the tasks that we're doing, and engage in a more effective way and focused way.
And also, it's a very, very helpful for memorization, to learn things, to remember things as the mind becomes more less filled with clutter and thoughts and distractions and become settled and just really be able to focus on what's going on. The breathing is stress reducing, and as mindfulness as a whole can be.
But as the practice goes deeper and deeper, fuller and fuller, depending on the metaphor you're like. There comes a time when there starts to rise an exquisite exuberance. Maybe that's too strong of a word. Sometimes the word in English that's used is occasionally you see the word rapture arise. I've seldom used that word. But today I'm using the word exuberance. Some people use the word thrill to capture some of the qualities of this. And the Pali word is piti, p i t i. And I prefer to translate it as joy. So kind of meditative joy that arises in concentrating on anything at all. And it's a little bit confusing this joy for some people, because many people associate joy with something that's inherently delightful, enjoyable by itself. And why how can the breathing be so enjoyable? You know, it's not you know, just a thing that comes in brings in air and, and so forth. And, but part of what's exquisite about it is is the exquisiteness of the mind that becomes organized unified, harmonized, with only staying with the breathing, just kind of riding the breath. And it's quite likely that that kind of organized, harmonized, unified mind that really stays with there is a means by which things, chemicals in the brain, get released like serotonin or different things that produce a kind of joy and happiness. But to say that this kind of reductionalistic, and maybe it doesn't, maybe mechanistic even. And it feels like when you do it, it feels like a much more kind of, like life has become full and complete than just like we're entering into this whole different world of, of, it's very rewarding or satisfying. In Zen sometimes they called self fulfilling Samadhi, or self enjoying Samadhi, the Samadhi, the absorption, which enjoys itself, self enjoying. And` it takes a while to get there. But one of the things that is really helpful to understand is that as the mindfulness gets stronger and we start seeing more clearly or thinking, our attitudes, our beliefs, our reactivity, we start seeing also what we hold on to, and what we clutter ourselves with and what we are attached to even unwillingly or, you know, against our wishes, even the way the mind latches on and holds on to things which are not really for, for our best.
And learn how to put those aside or not hold on to them or not be preoccupied by them. And have a mind that starts feeling unpreoccupied, the mind that's open and available. To, in a unified way, in a full way, have full attention to something very simple. Walking meditation. To be able to have full attention to the feet as they walk in a relaxed, open, soft mind where there's lots of space in the mind for to feel the exclusiveness of the feet coming down on the floor and bending and as it starts to lift up again. People who don't meditate might think we're crazy. We're talking about this kind of joy. But I think that I like the word exquisiteness because it's nothing different than the exquisiteness of something that people would recognize as being quite wonderful to watch and do and the exquisiteness of watching a great gymnast. And really it's such a pleasure to watch it. And to feel that kind of just with the steps as we walk, not because the steps are as skilled as a gymnast, because there's something about really being there for it, really pulled into its world and sensing and feeling, without the burden or the clutter of these negative thoughts and criticism, doubts and desires and impatience and all this stuff.
So it's not easy to quickly start feeling this meditative joy. But it is part of the territory of meditation, it's part of the range of possibilities that's there. And it felt important for me to offer it to you as, as kind of like the overview of what mindfulness of breathing can be about. And with a hope that if you know about this, that those times when you're on the edge of the possibility of opening to this kind of meditative joy that you will recognize it. Yes, this is good. Maybe this is the time to turn up the corners of my lips a little bit. This is a time to really slide on the experience of breathing, or stroke the breath like you're stroking a cat, or be stroked by reality, by the universe, like you're the cat. Just kind of enter into and just absorb and get absorbed in that experience of breathing.
Now, this is not a hedonistic tradition that the point is just to have lots of pleasure and lots of joy and the teachings of the Buddha, this kind of meditative joy arises when we're starting to let go of the forces of suffering in us, forces of distraction, preoccupation, the hindrances. It's kind of like a waystation on the way to liberation. And as we start getting liberated in small ways, like liberated from the hindrances, temporarily, because we're focused and in the present moment, then some kind of feeling of satisfaction, joy, delight, happiness, well being begins to surface. And that becomes a foundation to support us to become even more concentrated. Because then it's interesting. It's nice, it's feels satisfying. Yes, this is good. And this movement of Yes, that can be part of meditation is easier to step into and say yes, here, I'll stay with this. The mind wants to be with this. This feels good. And then the mind has a chance then in this greater involvement, unification around practice, to actually get quieter and quieter, siller and stiller. And some of the Joy, the exuberance fades away as well. And even some of the happiness and well being fades away. But it isn't a loss because it's even more exquisite what follows. Often a wonderful feeling of peace of tranquility, of equanimity. And again, the point is not to have peace, equanimity and tranquility. That's the end point. And there was supposed to just now be a tranquil person going around the world. That itself happens to be a wonderful staging ground, I don't know if that's the right word, platform or stage of practice, that supports a deep, deep, letting go. Some of the letting go the deepest attachments we have. And this liberation is the endpoint of mindfulness of breathing. And with liberation, I like to think that's not the endpoint either just to be liberated people, then the natural consequence of liberation is then to be available to serve the world. Not because it's a duty or we should, it just, of course you would. Of course, if you have no attachments of your own anymore, you're available to respond to the cries of the world and care for the world.
When I was in Japan practicing, one of my Zen teachers said that everything you need to know about would know about Buddhism, can be discovered through meditation on breathing. As I've said earlier that not meditation and breathing is not for everyone. But it is a pretty wonderful thing. And even if it's not for you, it still can have benefits for you. And you might just dip into it from time to time. And see what what you can learn about yourself or learn about through this that occasional attention to breathing. Maybe even when you're standing in a store in a line, that's an interesting time to study.
So I hope this focus on mindfulness of breathing has been useful and engaging and something that you could bring to your everyday life. And for the topic of today, enjoyment, maybe you can avail yourself for, to tune yourself to more the small pleasures and joys of life. And let that kind of massage you and work you and support you as you go through your day. And as you continue on this wonderful path of mindfulness practice, so may this day be a wonderful day of practice. Thank you.