+quot;Breath + Meditation+quot; by Barry Kapke Thich Nhat Hanh's THE SUTRA ON THE FULL AWA

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"Breath & Meditation" by Barry Kapke Thich Nhat Hanh's THE SUTRA ON THE FULL AWARENESS OF BREATHING is a translation of one of Gautama Buddha's principle discourses on meditative practice, the ANAPANASATISUTTA, as well as Thich's commentary on the sutra. The teachings here are coexistent with, and interpenetrated with, the SATIPATTHANASUTTA, which is translated in Thich's TRANSFORMATION & HEALING: SUTRA ON THE FOUR ESTABLISHMENTS OF MINDFULNESS. I will be referring to both sets of teachings, though my focus in this paper is on the ANIPANASATISUTTA. The ANAPANASATISUTTA presents sixteen practices of mindfulness concentrating upon the breath as a tool. The sixteen methods can be categorized into four groups of four methods. The first focuses upon the body as the object of Mindfulness or Full Awareness; the second concentrates on the feelings; the third, the mind; and the fourth, the objects of the mind. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness -- that is, the body, the feelings, the mind, and the objects of mind -- are actually but one, as all Four Foundations of the Mind are objects of the mind. Through conscious breathing, the Buddha says, one can become aware of the Four Foundations, "persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life." Thich points out that meditation has two aspects: stopping the mind, or concentration, and looking, or insight, understanding. He further elucidates on this: The Full Awareness of the breath, or of any other object such as the body, the feelings, the consciousness, the objects of consciousness, and so on, are all aiming at the goal of concentrating the mind on an object so that it is possible to see the object in all its depth. Concentrating mind is stopping it from running from one object to another in order for it to stay with just one object. We stay with one object in order to observe it and to look deeply into it. In this way, stopping and observing become one. (Thich 40) In using the breath as an object to stop the mind in order to see deeply the breath as an object of mind, duality is transcended; there is no distinction between subject, object, and observing. In the first two methods, the focus is upon the breath itself, not merely counting or following, but bringing full awareness to the observation of breathing. This became a very useful method in my own practice, as counting wasn't working well for me. I found my mind was quite capable of "roof brain chatter", all the while counting away without missing a beat. By involving the mind in observing, I was able to interest the mind, and thus to bring it to some focus. "I am breathing in a long breath. I am breathing out a short breath." Mind is brought into the present moment, observing what is in this present moment, eliminating unnecessary thinking. Thus, the attentive mind "stops" mind. Thich further suggests that we can unite the Full Awareness of Breathing with all the daily activities we engage in, not limiting it to sitting on our zafu. Doing dishes: "I am breathing in and I am aware of scrubbing the bowl. I am breathing out and I am aware of rinsing the bowl." Any activity can be an exercise in mindfulness, observing "the body in the body." The third method unites mind, breath, and the entire body. The focus, then, is no longer merely the breath, but the whole body as it is unified by the breath. This practice may begin with a progressive inspection of the body ("I am breathing in and am aware of the hair on my skull. I am breathing out and am aware of the contents of my skull.") and finally becoming aware of the body as a unified object. In the fourth method, the calming of the breath mutually influences the calming of body and mind. "In the calmness of meditation, discrimination between body and mind does not exist, and you dwell at rest in the state of 'body and mind at one,' no longer feeling that the subject of meditation exists outside the object of meditation" (Thich 49). Due to space constraints I am not able to elaborate upon all of the methods, but you are able from this to get a flavor of what is entailed. Thich comments that these practices are not necessarily to be done in sequence, as they do not necessarily correspond to a progression from easiest to most difficult. He does suggest, however, that a foundation in methods 1-2 (following the breath in daily life) and methods 5-6 (nourishing ourselves with the joy of meditation) provide a good foundation before attempting the others. He further points out that these first practices tend to place more emphasis on "stopping" the mind, while the latter ones shift slightly to having more emphasis on "observing"; he notes that although this may be said in general, it should be remembered that stopping and looking cannot exist independently of one another. The practices may also be seen as working to dissolve duality, each quaternary "subject" beginning with practices to still the mind and bring it to a one- pointed awareness of a chosen object of the mind and then, through the focused "is-ness" of observing, to enter "unity consciousness", where the subject of meditation no longer exists outside the object of meditation. According to the Buddha, the Full Awareness of Breathing and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness are a complete practice. SUTRA ON THE FULL AWARENESS OF BREATHING (ANAPANASATI SUTTA)[excerpted] The practitioner goes to a secluded place, sitting in the lotus position and holding his body straight. Breathing in, he knows he is breathing in; and breathing out, he knows that he is breathing out. 1) Breathing in a long breath, he knows, 'I am breathing in a long breath.' Breathing out a long breath, he knows, 'I am breathing out a long breath.' 2) Breathing in a short breath, he knows, 'I am breathing in a short breath.' Breathing out a short breath, he knows, 'I am breathing out a short breath.' 3) 'I am breathing in and am aware of my whole body. I am breathing out and am aware of my whole body.' 4) 'I am breathing in and making my whole body calm and at peace. I am breathing out and making my whole body calm and at peace.' 5) 'I am breathing in and feeling joyful. I am breathing out and feeling joyful.' 6) 'I am breathing in and feeling happy. I am breathing out and feeling happy.' 7) 'I am breathing in and am aware of the activities of the mind in me. I am breathing out and am aware of the activities of the mind in me.' 8) 'I am breathing in and making the activities of the mind in me calm and at peace. I am breathing out and making the activities of the mind in me calm and at peace.' 9) 'I am breathing in and am aware of my mind. I am breathing out and am aware of my mind.' 10) 'I am breathing in and making my mind happy and at peace. I am breathing out and making my mind happy and at peace.' 11) 'I am breathing in and concentrating my mind. I am breathing out and concentrating my mind.' 12) 'I am breathing in and liberating my mind. I am breathing out and liberating my mind.' 13) 'I am breathing in and observing the impermanent nature of all dharmas. I am breathing out and observing the impermanent nature of all dharmas.' 14) 'I am breathing in and observing the fading of all dharmas. I am breathing out and observing the fading of all dharmas.' 15) 'I am breathing in and contemplating liberation. I am breathing out and contemplating liberation.' 16) 'I am breathing in and contemplating letting go. I am breathing out and contemplating letting go.' SUTRA ON THE FOUR ESTABLISHMENTS OF MINDFULNESS (SATIPATTHANA SUTTA)[excerpted] First Foundation of Mindfulness: awareness of the body in the body Second Foundation of Mindfulness: awareness of the feelings in the feelings Third Foundation of Mindfulness: awareness of the mind in the mind Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness: awareness of the objects of the mind in the objects of the mind

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