29 Aug 2012
Meditation: mindfulness of breathing at the nostril. Focus mental awareness on breath coming in and out at the nostril or upper lip, wherever you feel the sensation most clearly. Engage with the full course of in and out breath, arousing attention at in breath and releasing thoughts and relaxing at out breath. Experiment with staccato counting to counter rumination.
This practice enhances vividness, but does so without sacrificing stability and relaxation.
Be relentless about breaking up rumination by resting engaged!
Meditation starts at 1:40
This morning we move on to the third phase, really the classic phase, the marathon phase, of mindfulness of breathing. This is the one that will you take you very, very far. This is focusing on the apertures of the nostrils; that is, the breath sensations there. Most important, as we go through these different phases, is to remember the balancing act in each one.
In the first one, full-body awareness, you are cultivating a deeper sense of relaxation without sacrificing the clarity you already have. [In] the second one, you are cultivating stability without sacrificing relaxation. In this third phase, we’re going to be explicitly cultivating vividness without sacrificing stability. So, there it is, those are the three balancing acts.
So, jump right in, find a comfortable position and we shall proceed.
(2:20) Beginnings are important, so to the best of your ability let each session begin in a welcoming fashion; an expression of loving kindness for yourself. As you allow your awareness to slip into this quiet, non-conceptual, serene space of the body; as you settle your body in relaxation, stillness and vigilance and settle your respiration in its natural rhythm; breathing so effortlessly, it’s as if you were deep, deep asleep, yet mindfully aware of the sensations of the breath.
With the spirit of renunciation, or more literally a spirit of emergence, the aspiration to emerge from sources of suffering and its result, set your mind at ease, releasing all mundane concerns. Settling your awareness in stillness in the present moment and for a little while clearly illuminating the sensations associated with the breath throughout the entire body.
Now make a strong point, an emphatic point, by keeping all the muscles of your face soft and relaxed. Spaciousness in the forehead, open, relaxed, loose; spaciousness between the eyebrows, a softness of the eyes. Keep it all loose and relaxed. Keep your eyes unfocused. Now, focus just your mental awareness, not your eyes or visual attention, on the tactile sensations of the passage of the breath; the actual air as it passes over the region above your upper lip, or the aperture of the nostrils, wherever you most distinctly experience the passage of the breath. Single pointedly focus your attention, just your mental awareness, right there.
Get into the rhythm of arousing your attention with each in-breath, relaxing deeply with each out-breath, but now make a very deliberate point of attending to the whole body of the breath. That is, remaining continually engaged throughout the entire course of the in-breath, and even as you deeply relax, remaining continually engaged with the sensations of the [out-] breath, throughout the entire course of the exhalation. Let this be a full time job.
Again, as soon as you’ve detected or identified, targeted-in on the tactile sensations of the breath – and there’s no need to visualize, no mental imagery, no cogitation, no labels – just focus on the bare tactile sensations of the in- and out-breath.
Let the flow of your mindfulness be so continuous, so tightly woven, so continually engaged that there’s just no occasion for rumination. As you sharply, intently focus your attention on each in-breath and as you breathe out releasing, releasing, releasing any thoughts that might try to creep in, release them instantly and gently. As you relax deeply, sustain that flow of mindfulness of the breath throughout the entire body of the breath.
Experiment with counting; one brief staccato count at the end of each inhalation. See for yourself the extent to which this is helpful in breaking up the flow of rumination.
Implement the all-important factor of applying introspection to monitor the flow of attention, recognizing as quickly as possible the occurrence of excitation and laxity, and then remember the antidotes: relax, release whatever captivated your attention and then return – in response to excitation. Refresh your interest, refocus your attention and then retain your mindfulness – in response to laxity.
Let’s continue practicing now in silence.
Instructions after meditation:
26:15) To maintain continuity of practice when you’re not on the cushion or in supine practicing mindfulness of breathing, what I really encourage is: just make ongoing, very gentle but persistent effort to keep coming to your senses, coming back to the senses. Just break, just be relentless, be almost ferocious in breaking that old habit of just falling into rumination, which is just going in the opposite direction from enlightenment. So just always try to be present, always engaged with something that’s real and that can include thoughts, be attentive to them. So it’s not saying don’t think, simply avoid the rumination.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Jim Parsley
Final edition by Alma Ayon