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Lions Roar : November 2019
There’s nothing esoteric about these ener- gies; if you allow yourself to perceive your inner sense of the body as “breath,” you’ll quickly detect them. “Mindfulness” Ajaan Lee uses in line with the Buddha’s original meaning of the term: instead of an accept- ing or nonreactive awareness, it means the ability to keep something in mind. 1. Start with several deep, long, in-and-out breaths. If you want, you can repeat to yourself a meditation word along with each breath, such as buddho—awake—the quality you’re trying to develop in the meditation. 2. Experiment to see what kind of breathing feels good for the body. Short in, short out; long in, long out; short in, long out; or long in, short out. You can also try fast breathing, slow breathing, heavy, light, deep, shallow. Drop your meditation word to allow yourself to become more sensitive to the quality of the breath. When you’ve found a rhythm and texture of breathing that feels good, stick with it until it doesn’t, then experiment again. As the mind set- tles in, the body’s needs will change. 3. Notice your breath and its attendant sensations. Become sensitive to the breath energies flowing through the body as you breathe comfortably in and out. Ajaan Lee recom- mends starting with the flow of energy going down the spine—from the base of the skull to the tailbone—and then out the legs; down the shoulders and out the arms; into the heart and down through the intestines. You can also notice where the movement of energy feels most prom- inent in the body, focus there, and then try to relax around that part of the body, allowing the energy to flow unobstructed in whichever direction feels best. 4. Focus your attention. Choose a spot in the body to focus your attention upon, comfortably and steadily. You might choose the tip of the nose, the middle of the head, the base of the throat, the tip of the breastbone (my personal favorite), or a point just above the navel. 5. Let your awareness spread. From that anchoring spot, spread your awareness to fill the entire body, so that you sense the whole body breathing in, the whole body breathing out. Allow all the breath energies to flow together smoothly and in harmony. If any pres- sure builds up, let it radiate out the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet. Allow the breath to find whatever rhythm feels best. If it gets so gentle that you don’t sense it, simply maintain the sense of awareness filling the body: centered, healing, open, and free. Of course, Ajaan Lee’s method contains its own riddles. But in trying to solve them, you’ll find that they make you more sensitive to the workings of your body and mind—the point of any good meditation method. ♦ For details on all courses: Buddhistinquiry.org Barry Magid & Max Erdstein Nothing is Hidden: The Psychology and Insight of Zen Koans Elizabeth Monson Emotional Resilience: Learning from the Life Story of the Buddha David Loy The Self and its Lack Jill Shepherd Liberation through Non-Clinging: An Exploration of the Five Aggregates Lila Kate Wheeler Sawing Our Way to Freedom: Loving Kindness by Any Means Necessary LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2019 28 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE