You Are Here
Having played with mindfulness meditation and breathing as a means of experiencing 'present moment awareness', but not really being sure if I've hit it or not ... or really being clear on what present moment awareness even felt like... even while often ignorantly talking about it...
.. I think I'm finally getting a little closer.
Or at least I came upon a visual analogy that kind of describes what the connection is between the breath and the present moment.
This was during a session of 'consciously connected breathing', as outlined in Michael Brown's book, "The Presence Process", a practice which he claims would be the most efficacious route to developing present moment awareness.
My experiences with bringing awareness to my breathing had thus far not had an astounding effect beyond the continual realization that, oh, yes, now I'm breathing in. Oh, and now I'm breathing out.... still separate moments and actions in time. However, I think there was something about the 'connected' aspect of breathing... in which I gently draw the breath in, allow it to fall naturally, and then draw it back in, not allowing for pauses in between, and bringing all of my awareness to the transition... this approach revealed the continuity of the breathing process throughout my life, and as a result, had the immediate effect of me becoming aware of my place along that continuum.
If you are a visual person, as I am, perhaps this will help.
I have always been fascinated by the image of a long, empty road. There's something about standing still on a stretch of asphalt, on which the points on either end are not visible to me from that place, that feels mysterious and compelling. There's the awareness that the road comes from somewhere and connects to somewhere else. And because I know this, I can imagine being connected to any point along that road beyond my vision, in that moment, including the ends, simply by virtue of standing in that one spot. For some reason, I always thought that was pretty cool.
This is the visual I had with the breathing. It is a process that has been with me since birth, and will continue until I die - a fact which was always logical and obvious to my rational mind. But it was the sensation of continuity that had previously eluded me. And so it with the awareness of this constant function.. like a road or a golden thread stretching from one end of my life to another, that brought an immediate awareness of where I was at that moment. And that everything else was just scenery.
Brown says the breathing exercise has the effect of activating our Inner Presence... our timeless knowing that does not concern itself with the dramas that our ego minds do. Yes, I stray off the path, and often get lost in the woods and the quicksand, but I now realize that the path isn't lost to me....only my awareness of it is, and all I have to do is remember to breathe, and the path reappears. It is, at once, the means of travel, and the destination.
No matter what's going on... the path through the quagmire that my thoughts insist on taking, I have the ability (hopefully) to stop and go, "oh, there's my breathing" and return to the basics. And in my more 'successful' breathing sessions, I get the feeling that this is all that is really essential. Everything else is just fluff and drama. Sure, some is necessary fluff, but keeping my feet on the path allows me to consciously choose which drama to participate in.
Makes it a whole lot more fun, to be sure.
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