Breathing is a very powerful and effective approach in therapy. There are many schools. Methods, more expressive and cathartique, and more ingoing and integrative ones. But breathing is as well a wonderful tool for meditation. Our breath is always now, never in the past, never in the future. Contrary to our mind which is almost all the time busy with past or future. Vipassana and Zazen have used this understanding for a long time. Unfortunately many schools of Vipassana, and also Zen, have become quite rigid. Giving a lot of attention to “the right form”, separating men and women, creating an artificial and rigid atmosphere. And this is not at all Buddhas teaching. Buddha emanates peace and relaxation, there is no rigidity, there is simply consciousness.
Osho Talks says about this:
And when I say watch, don’t TRY to watch, otherwise you will become tense again, and you will start concentrating on the breath. Simply relax, remain relaxed, loose, and look…because what else can you do? You are there, nothing to be done, everything accepted, nothing to be denied, rejected, no struggle, no fight no conflict, breathing going deep – what can you do? You simply watch. Remember, simply watch. Don’t make an effort to watch. This is what Buddha has called VIPASSANA – the watching of the breath, awareness of the breath – or SATIPATTHANA – remembering, being alert of the life energy that moves in breath. Don’t try to take deep breaths, don’t try to inhale or exhale, don’t do anything. You simply relax and let the breathing be natural – going on its own, coming on its own – and many things will become available to you. Osho, Ancient music in the pines
When we start to watch our breath as a meditation, it becomes simply the tool, that keeps us in the present moment, it reminds us again and again to stay here and now, when our mind seduces us to dream away to past and future. Without any effort, just by remembering, we stay more and more in the now. To sit upright for sure helps to stay awake, but there is no need for rigidity, when you need to move, adjust your position. When you are sick, you can even meditate while lying in the bed. Watching the breath is the most transportable meditation ever. And watching the breath has one more amazing side effect. When we stay present to the here and now, we cut the ongoing stream of recreating thoughts and feelings by the pictures we project inside, mostly unconsciously, often projecting variations of scary, painful or threatening experiences from the past into the future. These pictures create feelings, and as well physical sensations and symptoms on our bodies. This is what we usually perceive at a certain point, perceiving it as “it happens “ to us. The truth is that we unconsciously recreate these manifestations though our unconscious dreaming in our mind. Staying in the here and now cuts the fuel support for this process. This is especially important for all people, who have some kind of traumatisation in their life. When trauma happens, some frozen energy charge remains in the body, in the nervous system, and this contributes to recreating dreams, and feelings, and symptoms, because it attracts the attention of the mind, it fuels the process of projecting pictures, films connected with the trauma to the future. Watching the breath as a meditation keeps you here and now, and cuts this flow of projections. As a result you feel better emotionally and physically. Regularly practicing watching the breath is the best thing a traumatized person can do in order to relief the impact of trauma. Being present to the cycle of the breath, breathing in, gap, breathing out, gap, is what cuts the cycle of unconscious recreating. Or to say it in other words, it stops the wheel of Kharma. You stay present to the different stages of breathing. You stay present the flow in the breath, and life.
Osho says about this:
Buddha discovered a totally different angle: just watch your breath – the breath coming in, the breath going out. There are four points to be watched. Sitting silently just start seeing the breath, feeling the breath. The breath going in is the first point. Then for a moment when the breath is in it stops – a very small moment it is – for a split second it stops; that is the second point to watch. Then the breath turns and goes out; this is the third point to watch. Then again when the breath is completely out, for a split second it stops; that is the fourth point to watch. Then the breath starts coming in again… this is the circle of breath.
If you can watch all these four points you will be surprised, amazed at the miracle of such a simple process – because mind is not involved. Watching is not a quality of the mind; watching is the quality of the soul, of consciousness; watching is not a mental process at all. When you watch, the mind stops, ceases to be. Yes, in the beginning many times you will forget and the mind will come in and start playing its old games. But whenever you remember that you had forgotten, there is no need to feel repentant, guilty – just go back to watching, again and again go back to watching your breath. Slowly slowly, less and less mind interferes.
Osho: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
Shangri La offers training in breath work lead by Bhagat:
Breath of existence starting again in January 2017.