Author and meditation teacher Susan Piver, on her CD Freedom from Fear, leads a very simple, very effective breathing meditation that never fails to bring peace and gratitude.
At one point she invites the meditator to pause in the little space after the “out breath” and notice how the “in breath” spontaneously arises.
What she doesn’t say is how wonderful it feels to breathe.
I am about to say something that might sound preachy. If it does, please understand that I am preaching to myself as much as I am to anyone else who is experiencing discontent.
Breathing is enough.
That’s the beauty of a breathing meditation. When we are breathing consciously, then each breath is an affirmation, a choice to be alive. And it feels so good.
Whatever might be wrong with our lives, our relationships, our health – when the house is a mess or the spouse is messing around – when we should have had the promotion someone else was given, however unjustly – when (in the words of a song called The Merry Minuet, written by Sheldon Harnick and popularized by the Kingston Trio in the 1950s) “they’re rioting in Africa, they’re starving in Spain, there’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain” – as long as we can breathe, we have a place to start.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed – by the laundry, by global warming, by the millions of messages that bombard us every day, by our own unreasonable demands on ourselves.
When I am flinging fragments of myself throughout the cosmos, trying to solve my own and everybody else’s problems, Susan Piver, in her low, soft, reassuring voice, inevitably helps me reassemble myself in the process often called ”centering.” When life is unmanageable, sometimes all you can do is, as Anne Lamott advises, remember to breathe.
When you can be grateful for breathing, then everything else – sunlight, shelter, warmth, coffee, leftover pizza – feels like abundance.
Health, a light body, freedom from cravings, a glowing skin, sonorous voice, fragrance of body: these signs indicate progress in the practice of meditation. —The Shvetashvatara Upanishad
Photo © Luc Viatour, GFDL/CC. Text from the forthcoming book Unfamiliar Territory, Volume 2: Meditations.
Unfamiliar Territory, Volume 1: Poems, Prayers, Meditations, and Household Hints is available at www.LifeIsPoetry.net.