2023-03-06-Gil-Mindfulness of the Body (1 of 4) Breathing with Challenges
2:06AM Mar 9, 2023
So hello, everyone I'm happy to be back after had been gone for a while. And I trust that you were well cared for by our guest teachers. They're all they're all wonderful teachers and very happy that you were able to that they were able to come and teach and that you were able to hear their teachings and experience their presence and how they are. And and I think that this coming year, that it'll be, I think, starting next week, the fourth year that we'd start doing these 7am teachings, that they'll be gone more than I have been. And so that we'll have more, these guest teachers coming through, and some of the same will return and some, probably all of them will return at some point and, and, and others as well will come along and you could experience a range. So
So at the beginning of the year, I started teaching about challenges, how to practice with challenges. The plan is to continue doing that. And thinking about it today, I thought, well, that's what all Buddhism is. Buddhism is how to practice with challenges and overcome cat challenges. Aged Buddhism doesn't use that word at the center of it all. But I think that, in focusing on it here, now and these these, this year, that I'm highlighting how practice is certainly useful in everyday life, but how it's useful when there's stress, when there's anxiety, when there's confusion and difficulty. And that kind of heightens the level of, of sense of there's a challenge that the difficulty here and that can be arranged, it can be the simplest little thing. And but it could also be some of the major life challenges that people have that sickness, old age and death. People go through tremendous horrific experiences in their life and how to deal with those is calling him challenges maybe is to make him too, too small. And but split in his to his teachings on how to work with challenges is, difficulties is you know what to do when things get kind of life gets concentrated. So that there's a lot of intensity all at once. So what I'd like to do this week is go back to the four foundations of mindfulness. The beginning of this series I did this week, we did a week on each foundation of mindfulness. And today, I'd like to this week, I'd like to focus on mindfulness of the body. That the body and Buddhism mindfulness of the body has been emphasized tremendously since the time of the Buddha is such an important part of practice. The Buddha even said emphatically in a variety different ways, that there is no maturation in this dharma practice, without mindfulness of the body. And then recent decades, this would have become a tremendous appreciation of the value of the body for healing, the psychological healing, that maybe starting in probably the 50s, I hit 50s. And then onwards, there were psychologists who were discovering how important it is to really drop into the body, feel the body, feel the psychology as has manifested in the body. And then more recently, it's recognition of how important that is somatic work as for trauma. So in Buddhism, we have this emphasis on mindfulness of the body and then have using the body connecting to the body in times of challenges is invaluable. Then in the four foundations of mindfulness, there are six exercises on mindfulness of the body. And, and so we'll go through five of them this week. And The first one is breathing. And in times of challenge, remember to breathe. Remember to breathe mindfully and aware early. Because when we get challenged, the breathing tends to get tight or constricted, which tends to reinforce, tension you for a force, agitation, shutting down even. And it might be valuable to kind of for the breathing to stop or slow down to be constricted, if in fact, we have to get into a fight or flight to have to run or do something. But in many challenges, that's not what's needed to happen. And what needs to happen many times is to calm down and take a deep look at what's going on. So that wisdom can operate to clarity can operate. And, and then especially if there's, if there's, we feel challenged, when there's not an immediate challenge present, it's the challenge is someplace else in the future or has been or dealing with the repercussions of it, then we can then maybe we can take the time, to catch our breath, we say, come back and breathe. And, and so you know, take deep breaths, exhale, it's invaluable simply to do the three breath journey. And that is just maybe close your eyes. But just for three breaths, follow up, be with those three breaths. And in everyday life, if you go around, and if you stop for take those three breaths journey, that's enough, sometimes it just shift and change, significant amount of how we are how we feel, how we see the situation. And if you do a three breath journey, once every hour, I bet that your whole day will start having a very different flavor. So I come back and check in with my breathing, you know, regularly karma constantly, it's all these years of practice has become second nature, to feel my breath to connect my breath, see where the, where the constriction is, where I'm tight, where it's happening in the belly, what's happening in the chest, how am I breathing, and, and to use the breath as a relaxation. So when the Buddha began this four foundations of mindfulness, he talked about the put breathing at the center of it, because it's first. So to connect to your breathing, and, and recognize the breath. And then as we begin recognizing breathing, then begin feeling he said, the whole body, I'd like to begin by just feeling, the experience of breathing throughout the body, wherever breath breathing is, whatever is influenced or touched by the experience of breathing, and to take time to feel the somatic experience of breathing in the body. How is it and then, and then they would have went on to say, if, after you felt the whole body, relaxed, the tension in the body, relaxed the body. And this is kind of the beginner practice. However, so many of you have been practicing for some time. And as I said, in the guided meditation, I think most of us, most of the time, are practicing as beginners. And we sit down and the mind is busy and agitated or spinning around concern, there's, maybe we've had a busy day, and there's tension in the body. And the mind has not settled and calm and immediately gets concentrated. So we're kind of like a beginner. And, and to just appreciate them maybe, you know, just as almost like assumption, then mostly we're practicing as beginners. And sometimes we are practicing like, you know, like really getting made deep in meditation. But the as being beginners, people who are experienced in practice, are quite willing to begin again and again, be beginners in meditation. But what shifted is their attitude. One is there's a willingness to be there for that experience, not to be fighting it or agitating it or judging or think I'm not doing it right. I'm supposed to do right, what's supposed to happen here. There isn't, there's more spaciousness, a graciousness with all. I'm just here practicing beginning exercises. It's okay. And, and not to be I'm not going to, and that there's a feeling that the how we're mindful is more important than how deep we go. And rather than kind of jumping ahead like leapfrogging ahead into what we want to have happen in some depth of practice. It's is where we take a backward step into recognizing how am i right now, how am I feeling? And how am I being aware Am I being aware with with strain? Am I being aware with need and wanting and trying to fix something? Am I judging? Am I for against my experience? Am I complacent? Am I you know, I'm here, but I'm not really, you know that interested in meditating. And I'm just going to meditate every day. And I'm just here. So I'll just kind of like daydream or something, because I'm not really into it. So how, how is the mindfulness? How are we practicing, becomes important for beginners, they know that that's an important thing to look at and be with. And then as we become aware of how we are in any situation, how are we? How are we with challenges, how are we paying attention to our difficulties and what's going on for us, then to breathe in the middle of it, feel and allow yourself to breathe and the rhythm of breathing, the massage of breathing, maybe taking some deep breaths and exhaling long and deep. And then with the breath at the center, start feeling the whole somatic experience of body as much as it's easily available, and relax the body. So these are the three steps that the Buddha offers is kind of beginning practice
is to recognize what's happening with oneself, to feel it, to sense it to experience it, somatically. And then to relax. And those three are a wonderful little three step process. And as practice unfolds, it might seem that first one of those is not really relevant. And then no longer have unnecessary, you don't need to relax anymore. And then it's just recognizing and feeling. At some point, feeling the experience might feel too much, or recognizing the experience might be too much. And then the practice gets simpler and simpler. So so when we, when you have challenges, you might do a few things you might do the three breath journey, you when you recognize your arm challenge, now, take time, and in less, it's less the, you know, the threat is immediate. If you know there's some time and space, then take at least three you know the time for three breaths, close your eyes, and just kind of be really intimate, then follow and connected to three breaths, just three, and see what happens. The other is to practice these three steps that Buddha talked about. really recognize how you are, feel how you are somatically and then relax. And that can be done together with breathing. And, and this is beginner practice. And if you are an experienced beginner, then you know that how you're practicing is as important is there and you can feel you can recognize how you're practicing. You can feel it somatically how you're practicing, there's strain or tension, and you can relax how you're practicing. So there's no extra tension involved in the practice that you do. So if you should have some challenges today, and unless it's an immediate threat that needs to be addressed, I'd encourage you to engage with practice, practice in the middle of it. It's invaluable to practice and challenges it really strengths is inspires and, and really that's where the kind of a muscle of practice and maturation of practice really starts taking hold. So thank you and and then we will continue tomorrow.