2021-10-12-Breathing (2 of 5) Recognition
3:04PM Oct 12, 2021
I was introduced to meditation and breathing, probably almost 50 years ago. And if someone had told me 50 years ago, when I was still a teenager, that I would still be practicing mindfulness of breathing 50 years later, and those 50 years, but I spent a lot of time tuning into my breathing, I probably would have, I don't know, that probably would not have been a welcomed idea. But in fact, it's been a wonderful thing. That these years and in meditation, it just feels like it just keeps deepening and opening and a greater and greater appreciation for meditation for being present for attention. And to do it through the vehicle of breathing, and has spent a lot of time paying attention to my breathing. In fact, my my attention to breathing is kind of with me, most of the time, if I'm doing things talking, reading, being on the computer, it's kind of almost like a become a second nature to I also be with my breathing at the same time. So like, my breathing accompanies me with everything. And it doesn't interfere with my ability to do whatever I'm going to do. But it, it supports me, it guides me, I recognize right away or quickly enough, sometimes sometimes right away. When I get tense, when I get tight, holding concerned, when I'm pushing and trying too hard, it all gets translated into how my breathing operates. And I lose the ease for relaxed breath. And sometimes that's completely appropriate to have the breathing change. If I go for a run or, you know, hike up the hill or have some real fun with some friends playing or something, that the breathing does change in ways but it's qualitatively feels wonderful if it's in for a good purpose, that the but sometimes we know that there's, there's, you know, I'm trying too hard, I'm tense or, you know, trying to figure out my computer and, you know, I feel my whole chest, tighten up in the effects, the breathing, it's held. And so to constantly be aware of it, kind of supports, guides or supports me and having a much more easeful, peaceful kind of life as I go through my days. And I love my breathing as the intimacy with It is almost like an intimacy with life and keeps me intimate and connected in a wonderful way. So the theme for today is recognizing the yesterday was relaxing. And we can relax too much and become kind of just, you know, collapse in some way. But most people to relax deeply, deeply. To have meditation be a place of releasing, releasing the holding intention is one of the great purposes of meditation book, that's not the only purpose. And if we over we can over emphasize in such a way that we kind of slump a lot or collapse or just get kind of dull. And some of the sharpness of meditation comes from the fact of recognition. And this is kind of at the heart of what mindfulness is usually taught that there's a recognizing quality to it. And, and different teachers will emphasize different aspects of this mindfulness of recognition. Because many people in the West tend to be thinking thinkers think a lot get lost in their thought. And up in the control tower. Some teachers like to really emphasize language of feeling, sensing, feeling your breathing, sensing your breathing. Placing your attention in the middle of your, the physical physicality of breathing is and just had a really sense and feel it. But there are kind of three major forms of recognition that come into play with mindfulness practice, and they different times different ones of them are relevant. And, and knowing these three can be very helpful, because sometimes we're trying one when the other one is actually more appropriate. It's more useful for the whole system. And
sometimes one of them is more helpful to work through some kind difficulty than others. So knowing these threes can be very helpful. So one is is emphasis on feeling sensing, the direct physical sensation, experience or breathing, and that's one of the means of getting concentrated, because you find someplace where the breathing occurs in the body, where there's a sensation And you kind of ride this sensation closely, maybe you kind of imagine sort of sitting in the middle of this sensation being carried by it or focused on it, or just really kind of tuned very closely attuned. So the mind doesn't wander off very easily, just the sensing becomes the grounding the stabilizing force, the steadying force, for the mind to quiet down and get focused and stable and concentrated. And people who do the nostrils will have this sensations on the nostrils, the breath can vary, they get very precise and acute and very sensitive. And it's amazing how, how cute the sensations can get them very compelling, very pleasant. Sometimes the feeling in the chest, little movement, it might be the whole chest, it might be as we get concentrated, and just a little round spot, maybe around the solar plexus, or higher up somewhere in the middle line, and just a feeling of just right there feeling it. And if it's in the belly, it might be there's a classic places that the horror, this place, it's about two inches below the navel, maybe kinda like one inch into the body. And like the attentions right there, feeling the sensations in there, you're feeling the movements, often the sensation, the movements, the flow back and forth. And so it can be very effective to get us out of our head, sometimes that way. Other times, and for some people, what's more helpful is the what's really the their heart of the recognition factor, which is to know what the sensations are to know what the experience is, while it's happening. So to recognize it's an inhale when we're breathing in, to recognize an exhale with the exhale. And the recognition is a little bit cognitive. It could be with a single word, we use mental notes sometimes, or almost as if there's a mental note, like we imagine we're saying saying the note, like inhaling or in out. Or it might be that there's a movement expansion. And we recognize it, we brag now that's expansion with like, the expansion is happening, that's known expansion is known, there is release as we exhale knows, knowing the release. or there might be a whole slew of sensations that come into play, maybe too fast to kind of name them all. But there's kind of a silent recognition or an acknowledgement of what these sensations are. So in a sense, after an inhale, you might remember in a sense that there were because you recognize it, well, if you were there, that there was a subtle release of the inhale began. And then there was a gentle push in a part of the chest perhaps, and then expansion is spreading. And then at the top of the inhale, there was synthetic tautness, likely, some resistance to breathing in anymore. And then, and then maybe a pause and then release as the exhale began. So there's, and the recognition if it's done to effortfully, like you're doing a checklist approach, it just makes the mind busy, it's kind of uses a course or active part of the mind. The idea is to be very simple and natural and easy, almost like, wonderful expression, is that cognitive functioning of emptiness, the mind, left to its own very, its mind is very relaxed and very present, it will know it all it knowing just happens on its own, it's not so much a willful effort. But initially, there might be a little bit of effort to know but it's kind of like not a willful, it's just just a way of helping to stay present. It's a tether, it's an anchor to the present. It's a way of having little more clarity about what's going on. And as meditation deepens, the clarity becomes stronger. And there's less of the filter or the cloudiness of that happens when we're distracted, a lot caught up in our thoughts and our feelings.
And so there's more and more ease, ease and just recognizing, and some people will go through this pattern of starting with feeling the breathing. And then as the things settle down and get quiet and concentrated, it just feels natural then to brighten things up to sharpen the clarity of the mind, by having a gentle sought recognition, knowing cognitive knowing of what is actually happening here. And it turns out that in deeper meditation, there's something very deepening about this cognitive knowing just very simple, natural cognitive functioning of emptiness. At some point that cognitive functioning might seem like it's too much and and at some point, it shifts us to observing Very simple. Observing the experience, it doesn't have the same kind of direct contact and intimacy of feeling, and doesn't necessarily have the same kind of clarity as, as recognition of cognitive knowing. But observing can be very spacious, very safe. It's meant to be kind of a, one of the deeper places we come to, we settle back. And we're not entangled, not identify, not involved, trying to fix anything that's going on, which is there peacefully, just watching it. It's almost like we get out of our own way, when there's observation. There's observing, but no observer, that kind of thing. These are kind of three of the main kind of forms of mindfulness, and different times different ones are relative, real useful. And it's an I kind of talked about them as being in deepening. But sometimes when the mind is kind of very active, some people find it's better to just settle back and observe, rather than feel, sometimes the intimacy of feeling gets hooks us in to being kind of caught and more engaged. And sometimes the cognitive knowing is can be so beautiful. It's like, it's like in the knowing the cognitive knowing is where there's freedom is, it's almost like you say to yourself, oh, it's just an inhale. It's just a tight breath. It's just a control breath. And that recognition is like, Oh, that's all it is, and let it be. So the recognition factor, and so we begin with some relaxation, so we're not tense and doing all this. And then we practice recognition, and three forms, and you can experiment and there's feeling sensing, then there's cognitive knowing and then there is just observing simple observation. And and this is and for people who are real beginners, I recommend just the feeling and sensing and then stay with the sensations as best you can. And, and then as it shifts, you know, these other ones as well. And so thank you, and I look forward to continuing this topic of breathing tomorrow.