An Excerpt from Opening to Meditation by Diana Lang
One of the things I love most about meditation is that you need nothing outside of yourself to do it. Everything you need, you already have — including your breath. You don’t have to try to breathe. It is automatic.
The breath is the bridge between the soul and the self. The more connected we are to our breath, the more connected we are to our soul. When we stop breathing, it means that in some way we are disconnecting from ourselves, from our feelings, from our life force.
Notice your breathing now. Are you restricting it in any way? Is it rolling naturally and fully? Does the chest feel tight? Does it feel open? The breath is a powerful barometer of our state of mind and one of the most powerful accelerators there is for expanding consciousness.
You may find yourself holding your breath when you’re tense, or concentrating, or upset. When the breath is natural and relaxed, the belly and chest expand as you inhale, then softly contract as you exhale. When the breath is tense, this pattern can reverse, creating various imbalances in physiology, psychology, and our energetic bodies. When you feel nervous or worried, check in with your breath. Be sure that the abdominal area is expanding on the inhalation and relaxing on the exhalation. This awareness of the breath is a meditation in its own right.
Throughout the day, be sure to breathe in and out through the nose. This slows the breath down, warms and purifies it on its way to the lungs, and heightens the relaxation process.
If the breath is shallow, there is tension in the body. You might be surprised at how often the breath is tense — and worse, at how often you’re barely breathing at all. When the breath is full and deep, it’s a good indication that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced. Watch a baby breathe, and you’ll see the belly expand as she inhales and recede as she exhales. She is completely relaxed.
Take a deep breath now. Notice how easily your whole being comes into a calm balance — just by taking a single breath. The breath is like a wave: Far out from the shore a wave begins to form . . . inhale . . . From the depths, a powerful, surging expansion forms and rushes shoreward, gaining momentum, expanding and expanding: then it crests and curls and, ﬁnally, . . . exhale . . . crashes to shore, dissolving into bubbles and spray as it begins to recede on its long journey back out to the depths of the sea again . . . inhale . . .
With the breath deep and full, your meditation becomes alive. It is in ﬂux, like the sea. It is inﬁnite and changing. When the breath ﬂows, the mind flows, and we expand. The breath is your guide. The breath is constantly giving us feedback: time to move forward, time to stay still; time to listen, time to speak; time to be subtle, time to stand strong; time to hold fast, time to let go.
A breath is a complete cycle unto itself, self-perpetuating and constant. We don’t have to try to breathe; it is effortless. It is what animates us. It is the ﬁrst thing we do when we come into form; it is the last thing we do when we leave it. It is our life force.
The sound and quality of the breath is the best teacher you will ever have. Nothing can guide you more surely or more intimately than listening to the breath.
Let the breath be your life’s song. Learn the melody it is singing. Appreciate the harmony of it. Learn to understand and support the disharmony too. Your song is your own, and it is beautiful and unique.
# # #
Check out the book here:
Diana Lang is the author of Opening to Meditation and the owner and director of the LifeWorks Center for Growth in Los Angeles, where she lives. She is also active in a variety of nonprofit international efforts to teach meditation and yoga. Visit her online at www.dianalang.com
Excerpted from the book Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach ©2015 by Diana Lang. Printed with permission of New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com