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Lions Roar : July 2015
W HEN I TEACH PEOPLE how to use the breath to calm the mind and focus attention, I often mention something the Buddha said: that you should know, upon awakening, whether an inhalation or an exhalation is happening. He also said that while you’re falling asleep, you should realize, “Falling asleep inhaling” or “Falling asleep exhaling.” People generally laugh when I say this, registering some disbelief. But I do not take that instruction literally. “What I think it means,” I tell them, “is that we should pay attention all day long, morning till night, in all activities. “The goal,” I continue, “is not to become a breathing expert, or even an excellent meditator. The goal is to see clearly the causes and the possible end of mental suffering. It’s to experi- ence, and then want to cultivate, peace of mind for oneself.” When I explain that, I am usually touched by how soon disbelief passes, how settled the tone of the class becomes. The phrase “peace of mind” seems to strike a resonant chord in people’s minds. Then there’s the Buddha’s own insights, as expressed in the form of the four noble truths. My teaching colleague Howard Cohn says that the first time he heard these truths, he was so relieved that he cried. I think of the four noble truths this way: 1. Life is continually challenging because circumstances keep changing. Daily Life Is Practice All the moments of your day are teachings. If you look at them clearly, says SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, you’ll see the same fundamental truths the Buddha did. SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 54