Being "for" expands your heart. Being "against" contracts it. Feel this. The energy you radiate from your chest is a thousand times more powerful than the opinion you hold in your head. Just for today, try a new spiritual practice. Forget to be against. Only be for. Be for the sun, and the daffodils. Be for tears, and the laughter of children. Bathe the world in the foolishness of God.Daffodil by Kristy Thompson
You are not merely your race, your gender, your tribe, your class. These are your ornaments, your incidents, but they are not who You are. You are infinitely more than the sum of your chromosomes. Transcend every identity group, every voting block, by which politicians try to contain You. For You are immeasurable, You include galaxies. It takes true courage to realize, in this very moment, this very breath, your incomparable uniqueness. And the true revolution is to become a Person. Then You have a priceless pearl to give: your Self.
Photo: My incomparably unique daughter.
In holy dark
the diamond silence
of pure consciousness
becomes more radiant,
than any object
it could be conscious
A swirling flock of opposites,
wings with nothing to carry,
a galaxy of contradictions
the black hole
Now dear one
We are ready.
Let us make love
because we are neither
one nor two.
O holy confusion,
O erotic void,
O paramour whose
is my yearning!
Artist: Michelle McKinney
Shivaratri (February 21) one of the most auspicious nights of the year, celebrating the marriage of God and Goddess. This is the wedding of Shiva and Shakti: Consciousness and its own creative Energy.
For one who remains awake, this marriage happens each moment - but tonight the potency is higher. It is the union of Subject (Chit) and Object (Sat) in the bliss of every perception (Ananda). Each wave of perception brings us back to the wholeness, the stillness of the ocean, the Self.
You do not have to travel to a special destination. These nuptials take place in your chest. You get drunk sipping from a chalice of sparkling emptiness. No RSVP required: just show up.And no need to bring a gift for the Bride and Groom. Only offer your breath, then Shiva gifts you the priceless jewel of inner silence.
For some, the silence of meditation may seem like icing on the wedding cake. For others, this unfathomable silence IS the cake, and the world is the icing.
True mystical silence is the grace of the supreme Lord, and has nothing to do with control, concentration, or suppression of thought. It transcends thought, dissolving the mind in wonder.
At dawn, may the blue sky of boundless love emanate from your heart, irradiating the cosmos. Om Namah Shivaya.
"Then God began to compose a moving image of eternity."
~Plato, 'Timaeus'You do not defy gravity.
Your body is a clutter
and other Platonic solids,
by the rotation of crystals
in the mind of silence,
love's ephemera, meaning
that your weight is precisely
your degree of presence.
The moment you were born
you touched the asymptotes
of an infinitesimal perfection,
like the first idea of a hand.
Then you fell like a thistle
into this meadow of umber curves
to plow and plant and place
your shimmer of probabilities
on earth, where there is
The deeper I kneel
in your loam, the more
exalted my kinosis.
What trigonometry of lips
and eyes, dear love,
could shadow your breath
or mimic your light?
And what is more wondrous
than bowing in a galaxy
As the whole Spring day
will pass through the wing
of a dragonfly,
and the sunbeam will linger
all night in a hologram
so you lustrously embody
the yearning of the numberless
for a paramour.
Painting: 'Etaine' by Susan Seddon-Boulet
Your first act is your radiance. You can be the burning heart of creation. To become a force of love, a force of harmony on earth, begin by returning to your own physiology, which is the hologram of your world. Now is the time, now is the breath, to unite your mind and heart in a single flame. Let it rise from your chest to the crown of your head on the wick of your spine. Let it burn black holes through every galaxy. This burning that gathers trillions of cells, quadrillions of atoms, into one flame, is the same fire that gathers the stars into one body. And it is your body. The miracle is not to get out of the body, but to get into it.
Painting: Divine Source by Alexandra Florschutz
You are the Lord of Wells.
You measure us by our darkness
and our falling.
We listen for a sound that comes
Enough about my heart and yours.
There are eight billion thirsts
but only one spring.
I vow no longer to confuse
the name of my desire
with your hidden aquifer
One of St. Brigid's Wells in Ireland
With their arches, rose windows and spires, the great cathedrals of Europe are portals leading upward to the Divine. Yet in the British Isles, sacred wells are portals leading downward to the Divine. To be whole, we need both doors to God, spirits soaring, roots sinking. A ray of breath threads the crown of my head to a distant star, yet the soles of my bare feet are mouths of praise.
the brown loam clothed
her hips in moss.
Each stone is soft and green now.
The sexual fury of the seed
became the glow in the rose.
Spring is a ventriloquist.
Her rainbow lips barely move,
yet poppies seem to gossip
in a language of scarlet and yellow.
Up through the nakedness
of our entangled cilia
comes a fragrance of beauty,
mingled with the musk of death.
What would earth say?
If you understand this,
you are thinking too hard.
Just know that all you
ever wanted was here,
and is returning.
New Age teachers, please stop telling me that I am not my body. I Am my body, and every atom of my body encircles countless stars.
You received this idea from Eastern sages who were deeply immersed in monastic philosophies, and you repeat it like a pain pill, because it gives you some respite from the troubled uncertainties of sensation. But it is doubtless only an idea, and not an experience.
In truth, when I am singing, laughing, praying, or giving birth to tears, there is absolutely no difference between my soul, the dust, and vast space.
Each photon of this flesh, though instantaneous in duration, is infinite in its energy. Don't take it from me. Take it from Professor of Mathematical Physics, Paul Davies:
"We can envision a particle such as an electron as surrounded by a cloud of virtual photons which buzz around it like bees around a hive. Picture then the electron immersed in a shimmering bath of evanescent quantum energy, intense near the electron but dwindling steadily with distance. This restless seething ferment of virtual photons is, in fact, precisely the electron's electrical field, described in quantum language...I am the incarnation of unboundedness, in brilliant infinitesimal bindhus that sparkle, dissolve, and burst again from the void, an eternal yet granulated continuum where no distinction actually exists between spirit and matter.
"The energy of this photon activity surrounding an electron can be computed. The answer proves, unnervingly, to be infinite..." (The Matter Myth, Davis and Gribbin, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1992, page 242)
Each atom of this body awakens the cosmos to its glory. We are here on earth to manifest Divine Radiance in form. And our form in no way limits our essence. When you really need a Guru, consult your bones.
When no Word had been spoken
and mountains were still inside the wind,
when the sky was a breathless blue
not yet gazed from your eye,
the sun not yet exiled from your heart
into this lonely distance,
and the seeds of creation were enfolded
in your golden hug,
who was the Beloved?
What was Love's shape
before the throb of time in the empty
drum of no mind?
Who caressed you when your flesh
was not yet rounded into honeyed cells
to receive it?
Now look: A pollen-scented flame
burning on the stamen of your spine,
your wick of resistance in the fire
And between your nipples a moist
brown furrow to sow with
double rainbows of birth and dying,
those lilies of pain that end all seeking.
Note the clear nectar
which is to look at looking,
through which you see the bottom
of the chalice.
These are signs of what can never
be pointed to,
because miracles only happen
before you notice,
in a place where you already are.
Now wake up drowning in this
joyful hug of the alone.
Be careless as a circle.
Fall into the font
of never having needed
to be forgiven.
No judgment arises from the golden hollow in the core of your body, because the light of "Nothing Wrong" engenders a new earth with each exhalation.
When you find this place in your body, my smile will arise there. And when your smile arises from that same place in me, each photon of pure light in my blood says, 'thank you.' I am absolved, forgiven, transformed by your emptiness.
Beyond non-duality, we rest in the immeasurably soft fabric of otherness. Our oneness is entanglement. This is why our power to bless keeps expanding, and the dance of the galaxy begins in every cell of our flesh.
Waves of clarity drown us in a gaze. Then we know that judging others is the root of dis-ease, forgiveness the nectar of healing.
Friend, let us study the marvelous science of the belly, which is deeper than love. Our teacher dwells in the moment before creation, therefor She is very near. In fact, She is probably a furry beast whose pupils are ancient wells, flooding over with the darkness of our first ancestor.
There's a clearing in this wilderness, just below the heart and above the navel. Here we gather to study the physics of miracles. And this is why we have no time for outrage.
Now what do you learn from the anointed animal of your own physiology? When the mind wanders during meditation, don't chase after it. Let it explore the farthest edge of interstellar amazement, or mingle in the golden atoms of a rose.
And even when you have as many thoughts as there are 0's after the 1 in the roundest number of Infinity, your meditation is still silent and hollow. Do you know why? Because you are not your mind.
You are the space through which it wanders. You are the motionless green journey of a seed spiraling into the death of its flower.
Therefor let mind roam through time as well as distance, without the slightest effort to grasp or lead it home.
Just as a mother's love enfolds her wrestling whelps, so you watch over the play of your thoughts. For as long ago as your great grandmothers can sing, and as far ahead as your unborn children can dream, your mind is just the refulgence of this moment.
Know, through the sacred art of listening, what the owl sees at midnight, how the new snakeskin shimmers under the old one, what the moth wing feels as it enters the flame.
Why is there no journey? Because the beginning and end are one breath. Now rest in the heart.
Painting by Sue Wookey
"Glorify God in your body." ~1 Corinthians 6:20
Body is the fuel, Spirit is the fire, Mind is the smoke. The more efficient the burning, the less the smoke, until there is only the violet flame of the self-luminous human form, irradiating the universe with wonder.
In the final canto of his Paradisio Dante beheld, in formless divine light, the fleeting image of a Christic human body. Beyond that, his words and thoughts could proceed. This vision brought him not knowledge, but "forgetfulness," which would be better translated as "un-knowing."
Leonardo da Vinci attempted to capture this vision in his painting of the "Vetruvian Man," whose lineaments and proportions, like a human hologram, contain the principles that generate the cosmos.
So Hildegard of Bingen saw, in the blinding abyss of divine light, a human form which she called "the Blue Man," a vision she painted in one of her mandalas. Was the blue man Christ? Or Krishna? Hindu tradition always depicts Lord Krishna as blue. Though Krishna ever remains non-dual and absolute, the devotee can behold, through the eye of the heart, Krishna's transcendental human form in the sky-blue crystal void of pure consciousness.
Our human intellect cannot begin to grasp the cosmic significance of our human body. But love can.
What flows was once frozen,
what freezes once was flow;
life and death are woven
like raindrops in snow;
the bone fire of old rams,
the teat stream of the ewe,
the glittering holograms
of midnight stars in dew;
a glance of half moon
on a dark icy pond,
a bright mystic rune
of reflection, a wand
of crystal, touching seeds
that slumber under sod
in emptiness that bleeds
to bear the crocus god;
white witchery of Imbolc,
who cloaks the frozen field
with lunar pearls of milk
to nurse my wound unhealed;
the brittle Winter sun
within my heart, to thaw
and make the sap to run
from furrows raw;
Dear mover of the looms
of time, O Mother wise,
plant roses in these wombs
of light, my sleeping eyes.
We all had tears of laughter in our eyes, shouting, "Don't speak the Word, don't create heaven or earth. Let's just stay crushed together in this unfermented juice!"It was no use. The Old Man cried, "Let there be light!" Everything's been tumbling downhill ever since, from chaos toward perfect order. We all began fermenting.
Now we are a tangle of vines, both luscious and poisonous, beyond the broken fence. Our mouths are full of honeysuckle. Our ears are clover petals. I am lost in a bio-galactic meadow among pulsars of dew, gazing at a string of moons through a dragonfly's wing.
Your otherness is questionable as mine. We are dreams of light in each others optic nerves. This field must out beyond ideas of right or wrong. Rumi wanders barefoot here.
Now drink from the bowl of my heart until it's hollow. Then drink even more. Let us both become the bottom of the well. We long for the gush of a rounder emptiness, a ringing sound that shakes the belly of the void before God speaks.
We got here through repose, not pilgrimage. Now we reveal, by laughter alone, the secret of the Sabbath:
Spin the atoms of the world from how you see it. Each breath is the ocean of love. Be here prior to Light, the energy beneath the form. Let all concepts dissolve into blues of the sky behind your eyes. Only your secret joy can recreate the earth.
Painting: Breughel's Garden of Eden, at the center of which is not the human couple, but a peacock whose tail has not opened. What does this mean? Nothing.
The most secret name of God is Between.
The sparkling stream of emptiness
between frog croaks.
Between coyote howls,
a wild bodhichitta stillness.
The silence between stars which is
the same voluptuous ocean of awakening
that ripples between my thoughts.
Whorls of the void, vast moments of night,
immeasurable hours of solitude
filled with radiant Otherness
when pure listening
is the dark energy of creation
settling into the cracks between,
and the only hope
is a greening of Presence
in every trough and hollow.
Now let the galaxies come down to kiss me
veiled in their fathomless intimate distances.
I sleep until the sparrow sings
yet hear the unstruck chimes of Imbolg
ringing in their icy seeds.
A February between breaths,
between dreams, between the thaw
and peristalsis that squeeze me
out of myself.
Equations all unbalanced,
a crumpled universe tumbling
from the Bardo like a wizened plum
from its fist of probability.
Praise the gaping cotyledon,
praise the sproutless root, the ugly bud,
praise ooze in the cocoon,
praise the placenta.
Not the beginning or the arrival
but the process,
the shudder of uncertainty
just before, and just after
Praise the wholly imperfect,
the ordinary between feasts,
the pregnancy of ewes,
whatever is in the belly,
the nothing ever finished,
"The most common etymology of Imbolc/Imbolg is the Old Irish 'i mbolc' meaning 'in the belly,' and refers to the pregnancy of ewes. Another possible origin is the Old Irish 'imb-fholc,' meaning 'to wash/cleanse oneself.'"
It is not such a blessing to be in the presence of a person whose mind is full of thoughts, even if they are "intelligent," even if they are "right." In fact, it can be exhausting. The greater blessing is to be with one whose mind is awake in stillness, free from ideology. Look into their eyes. They will invite you, saying without words, "Welcome to the miracle, the greening of life." This is how little children meet on the playground.
The "news" of the world is not the world. Our concepts about the world are not the world. They form a gray, ghostly, parallel world of thought. The actual world we only notice in brief flashes of wonder: a bursting blossom that was not there yesterday, the smile of a tree frog on a mossy stone. The actual world is a sparkling emerald of immediate energy that instantly endlessly materializes and dissolves in the ocean of pure consciousness.
If we want to stand on the New Earth, even for one brief breath, let us shatter every concept and plunge into the catastrophe of love.
I wrote this little mindfulness manual for the senses in 2006. Just rediscovered it, and it feels even more relevant today. Sharing..._______________
"Eternity was in our lips and eyes..." (Shakespeare)
"Those who gained enlightenment by seeing blossoms or hearing sounds, achieved it through the body." (Dogen, Father of Zen)These are practices of wonder. Wonder is the one mode of consciousness which computer and nanno technology will never fathom or imitate. I offer these teachings for the healing of the earth, through the reunion of the Spirit and the Body. These practices do not take you above or beyond your body and its sensations. They consecrate the body, the ear, eye and skin. They make a sacrament of sensation. "Taste and see that the Lord is good!" (Psalm 34:8)
Do not romanticize these practices. You don't need a tropical island or a mountain shrine. You are called to attend the stark and the ordinary: a crow on a withered branch, a chimney against the clouds. When you bathe your perception in a breath of compassion and steep it in mere awareness, you open a window between God and creation, through which world-healing powers flow. You are the window.
Use these practices even in the work place to save the mind from fragmentation: the stress caused by information-overload and multi-tasking. "Salvation" means nothing if we cannot save our own awareness. These practices are designed to re-collect your energy and re-connect you to your core-silence. They are momentary Sabbaths. In Hebrew, the word Sabbath does not mean a day of the week; it means, "stop." Do you have the courage to stop rushing into the future and open your heart to what Is?
Do not practice these meditations all day: only for moments, as short bursts of refreshment, expansion, and cleansing. The practices prepare you for sharper focus and on-task clarity as your intellect returns to work. But during the practice itself, the intellect remains at rest, simply witnessing phenomena without analyzing them...
Close your eyes and listen to the faintest furthest sound you can hear. A fruitful time for this practice is early in the morning, as you are waking from sleep and birds are beginning to sing. Let your attention expand to the horizon of hearing. Let the faintest sound's vanishing lead you into deeper silence. Continue to listen in silence. Let each sound that arises be an invitation to the silence that follows it. You cannot be anywhere else but here when you truly listen. In pure listening, past and future vanish. Listening brings you to Presence.
Go outside during a break from work, even if you are in the middle of a city. If you can't go outside, just sit by a window. Look at the sky. Find a patch of blue. Look deeply into the blue of the sky until your eyes gaze beyond the vanishing point. You are gazing at infinity. Your eyes will unfocus and relax. They will focus on no-thing. This relaxes many muscles in your face. Breathe in, then follow your exhalation out through your eyes toward the infinite depth of blue. After a few breaths, close your eyes and experience this same vastness inside you.
In a gathered meditation circle, I do this exercise with grapes. Jesus did it with bread and wine. You can do it with any fresh natural food. Even a sip of water can be magic.
Hold the grape in your hand and look at it carefully. Notice every detail. If this grape were placed in a bowl with a hundred other grapes, what would you look for to recognize this particular grape? Now look even more deeply into the grape. It's liquid contains the rain, the clouds, the sky that watered it. It's skin and meat contain the minerals of the earth. Many trees and flowers and animals have died and returned to the loam to form the nutrients in this grape. The fire of the sun sparkles inside this grape, photons of light from the stars. This grape contains all the elements: earth, water, fire, sky. This grape is full of death and rebirth.
This grape contains humanity too. Many human hands have touched it: hands of laborers, packers, shippers and grocery store clerks. The juice of this grape runs with human toil and tears. The soft meat of this grape is woven from the web of commerce, stretched across a continent to bring you sweetness. Noticing all this is prayer: grace unspoken.
Lift the grape to your nostrils and smell it. Now hold this grape in your palm and honor its gaze. Eat. Taste. Pure wordless sensation, without the label, "grape." Swallow.
Sit quietly and observe sensations in the mouth and tongue, the bouquet blossoming and fading like the colors in a sunset. Follow these flavors and sensations until they dissolve into Presence, into the silence of Being without desire.
The Window of Personhood
You are bringing Spirit into Matter. In the moment of sensation, as the external object enters your senses, your consciousness flows out to meet it, blessing and infusing its material energy with radiance. What if the object of your sensation is not a grape, but a person?
The dynamics of the following process are precisely the same as the dynamics of meditation. You are meditating upon the presence of a person, in the midst of relationship, just as you would meditate upon your own breath, or the face of God in your heart.
There are two aspects to classic Buddhist meditation, called "samatha" (stillness) and "vipassana" (insight). In the Christian tradition these are called "recollection" and "union." First, your awareness becomes empty and free of monologue. You are silently focused on the object of meditation. Secondly, your consciousness penetrates into the object, merging with its energy and essence.
Face to face with the mystery of another human being, rest in silence. Spend a few breaths gazing into the eyes of the other, breathing her into your heart. I mean this literally. Breathe in your partner’s face, placing your attention in the region of your heart as you gaze into those eyes. Inhale their pain, their weariness, their sorrow. Soon you will see the little child beneath the lines of anguish in that face. Breathe in the child. Gaze upon that face as you would gaze upon a flower, just as it is, without judgment, without the slightest motive to change or improve.
Now as your exhale, breathe out a wave of compassion and healing. You need not try to feel it. Compassion arises as the gift of emptiness.
As you gaze into her eyes, do not resist the movement out of yourself, into them. Have courage: surrender to your flow into the depths of the other. You will dissolve into the silence, the stillness, at the core of her being. And you will become gently disoriented: for this is the very core of your own being also!
In this moment of pure dissolving, you in relationship, yet beyond relationship. You meditate upon that Being who is both Self and Other. You can"love thy neighbor as thyself," for the other IS your self. This meditation on the heart of relationship will transform both of you into one radiance.
Do this even with a difficult relationship: in the home, on the street corner, or in a business meeting. In a troubled relationship, we usually protect our heart by withdrawing into our head, the artificial world of mind. We construct a gray parallel world of thought, where there is safety in merely commenting on the real world, instead of living in it. Then consciousness gets stuck inside us and cannot flow out into the other.
Feel that stuck-ness. Feel it as a sensation burning and scraping all through your body. You really don't need to think about what you will say, or what the other person says. The “meaning” of the words is quite superficial: it will change according to our emotional state. It is only an interpretation. The words are theirs, but the hearing is ours.
So just for a few moments, it is more fruitful to let go of thoughts and words, and silently observe the other’s face. Abandon your own agenda and be empty. Gaze into the other's eyes, breathing in, breathing out. Observe fear rising in your heart. Just to observe that fear is courage. Then fear dissolves into energy, energy dissolves into calm, and calm gives rise to compassion. In this moment of acceptance, the other's demeanor will soften.
If that person continues to be tense, you can soften the space around them. Let your primary focus shift to the space around their body. No matter how agitated the person is, the space around them is still. Artists call this negative space. Allow your awareness to expand and enfold the other’s body. Infused with your transparency, that space grows soft and quiet. The enfolding cloud of your awareness will penetrate that person's mind and body. Enjoy this practice even with your "enemy." This is secret silent work. You don’t have to let the other know you are doing it.
Thich Nath Hanh once said, “We practice deep listening, compassionate listening, in order to relieve suffering. We don’t listen in order to judge, to blame, to argue: we just listen with all our heart, because we know that the fact of mere listening can bring about transformation and healing.... Compassionate listening is what we desperately need in our world.”
Touching the Sun
You've been working inside, staring at your computer for many hours. Perhaps you've had days and days of gray weather with no sunlight. Then the sun comes out. Is this not grace? Is this not a sacrament? How will you celebrate?
All of your energy comes from the sun. Your food is energized by photons of sunlight. Whatever you use for fuel, its warmth and fire originate in the sun. When you feel depleted, you can use this sunny day to re-energize. I write this on the first day of Spring, 2006, twenty minutes from the vernal equinox!
Go outside. If you can't go out, open the window and stand in the sunlight. Close your eyes and agree to be completely here in your body. Be aware of your breath-body, each breath filling you from the soles of your feet up to your eyeballs. Absorb the radiance dancing through your eyelids, the sun's energy bombarding your nerves with billions of photons. You can "see" this even though your eyes are closed, because the sun's energy will stimulate your optic nerve through the skin. There is nothing esoteric about this, nothing to imagine.
Using your inhalation as a vehicle for the sunlight, breathe the solar fire in through your forehead. This will cleanse and tune the pineal gland and you can feel the energizing tingle in every cell of your brain. Breathe this stream of sunlight down through your lungs, to your heart and solar plexus. It will irradiate your internal organs and nourish every cell in your body.
Exhale through your solar plexus, offering the stream of fire back to the sun. Breathe deeply and slowly, luxuriating in each breath of light. Do it seven times. Seven circles of sunlight in to your forehead and out through your belly. Afterward, spend a few minutes sitting in silence, merged with the sun in your body. Or if you are outside, take a walk, greeting and warming the earth with every footstep.
Touching the Planet
"Nowadays people breath through their nostrils. In ancient times, the masters breathed through the soles of their feet." ~Earliest Chinese text on Tai Chi
Your skin is an organ, the largest organ in your body. When we speak of touching, we usually wait for something or someone to press our skin. We are not used to being in constant touch with the air, the sun, the moisture around us. Some of us are so de-sensitized and numb, we can't even feel the ground when we walk on the earth. A great Buddhist teacher, Thich Nat Hanh, said that the real miracle is not to walk on water, but to walk on the earth. Sioux Indian sage, Black Elk, gave us this advice: "Let every step you take upon the earth be as a prayer."
Go outside in the hour before dawn, or early in the day when the grass is still wet with dew. Take off your shoes. Stand with eyes closed in the cool grass and breath. Don't just breathe through your nose. Imagine that you are breathing through the soles of your feet. Let the breath of the earth flow up into your legs, hips and belly. As you exhale, release the pent-up tensions in your muscles. Feel the release from your face down to your ankles. Watch the tension discharge into the ground. It makes good manure.
Exhale stale thoughts and worries of yesterday. Pour them into the wet grass. Breathing yesterday out, right down into your feet, let the touch of the earth and the sting of the dew awaken today. This is the only day. This is the only world. Why not stand in dignity, without trying to be anywhere else?Become aware of the bottoms of your feet and the touch of the ground. Imagine your feet taking root, your roots penetrating to the center of the earth, chords of conscious energy. Breathe in and out through these roots.
Now open your eyes and begin to walk slowly, barefoot in the wet grass, with your attention in the soles of your feet. Very slowly, walk without destination. Walk without a goal. Walk just to taste your body moving, drinking the milk of space. Today is enough. Has it ever occurred to you that the purpose of life is just To Be? If we are truly alive, truly walking, we need no other purpose. We are pilgrims ever-arriving in the temple of Presence.
Feel every sensation as one foot lightens and lifts into the cool air, the other foot pressing into the grass to gradually receive the sacred weight of your body. Feel the foot widen to hold the earth like a hand. Feel your weight roll from the heel toward the ball of the foot. Feel your toes gently grasp the earth, one last caress, as the foot leaves the ground. Walk like this for three minutes, that's all. It’s not meant to be a rigorous discipline, but a respite of wonder. Be a toddler just learning the dignity of walking on this earth. You will feel grounded and whole for the rest of the day.
"Breathing in with the whole body, breathing out with the whole body.”
~Buddha, Satipatthana Sutra
Breathing is the purest prayer. In awareness of breath, we dissolve the gap between mind and body, heaven and earth, the ideal and the real.
If you sat back from your desk at the office and practiced the following exercise for three minutes, giving yourself to it 100%, you would be re-energized, relaxed, and re-newed for several hours.
A common expression is: "Stop and take a breather." But we seldom actually do. We stop to gossip at the water cooler. We stop to douse our nerves with caffeine. We go to the gym and work our breath into a heavy pant. But have you ever actually stopped to breathe, noticing the feathery touch of air in your nostrils and throat? Noticing breath descend into your chest, expanding the rib cage in slow majesty? Have you allowed warm breath to bathe your heart? Have you let breath swell the belly and abdomen muscles, drawing awareness right down to your sit-bone, grounding you to the earth?
Then, exhaling, have you consciously felt the gentle contraction of those abdomenal muscles, watching the breath flow up the torso into the throat? Have you become aware of your jaw and cheeks and tongue relaxing into the face you had when you were a child?
Have you noticed your nostrils quiver to attention like the nostrils of a deer? Have you watched breath rise and dissolve like a wisp of smoke in your forehead, leaving awareness free from the chatter of thoughts? Have you offered your exhalation through the baby’s soft spot in your crown, and poured yourself gently back into the sky?
Now, at the end of the exhalation, in the moment between this breath and next, surrender. Merge your attention in the silence between exhalation and inhalation. Abandon the little "me" that is merely a thought. Dare to be no one, just for a moment, and become the boundless sky.
Boundlessness is the gift of every exhalation, as one breath dies into the birth of the next. Your breath can teach you to dissolve your entire history, and to be reborn. As scripture says, "All that matters is to be created afresh!" Every breath is the new creation.
Now observe who is breathing... Are you breathing? Or is the Almighty breathing you? Breath is a gift, is it not? A gift given without your slightest effort. To witness your inhalation is the revelation of Grace. What is your response to Grace? Just offer it back: exhale. That’s all you can do. Each breath is the whole story of salvation: God's gift, your response. To breathe is prayer.