The Power of Breath

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Tension arises every day – in my yoga asana practice, in my meditation and in my daily life. There are times in yoga that I feel as if I don’t exit this pose right now, my muscles are going to rip apart.  Or in meditation, my mind can take the thread of a thought and in a minute it’s a tangled mess.  In daily life, I can have an unpleasant encounter that causes my stomach to knot and my pulse to race.  But in each of these different areas – physical, mental, emotional – the means to relieve the tension is the same, my breath.  No matter where I am – on my mat, in my car, at my desk – I bring my attention to my breath.  If I really, really focus on my breath, feeling – even seeing – the flow, in and out of my whole body, the relief is immediate. By focusing on my breath, rather than on the point of tension, the muscles soften, the mind disentangles, the pulse slows.  Then once again I remember that I do not have to be governed by my body, my mind or my emotions, but rather than I can be in control through the simple focus on my breath.

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Simple advice

“One of the first things that Munindra said to me when we met [in Bodh Gaya, 1967] was that if I wanted to understand the mind, I should sit down and observe it. The great simplicity and pragmatism of this advice struck a very resonant chord within me. There was no dogma to believe, no rituals to observe; rather, there was the understanding that liberating wisdom can grow from one’s own systematic and sustained investigation.”

Joseph Goldstein (via the-starpilot-has-landed)