Outline on Following Breath and Posture in Meditation in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Order of Interbeing
Posture: Back erect, shoulders relaxed, half lotus, quarter lotus or sitting in a chair. The purpose is to be relaxed, yet alert. This also allows for breathing without hindrance. Having a pillow under you is important to lower stress on the back. Eyes closed or half-closed, directed down a few feet in front of you.
1) Just be aware of breath: Is it long or short, deep or shallow? Be aware of the diaphragm rise and fall or the breath at the nostrils. Its very important to not try to control your breathing. Just practice being aware of it.
2) Thoughts and feelings will arise. Your legs may bother you. Mindfully, with awareness, adjust your posture. At this point just smile to thoughts and feelings, gently going back to being aware of your breath. The same with sounds or distractions.
The purpose is not to suppress the mind or stop thinking, but to stop the clutter in the mind by gently focusing on one thing, the breath. Don’t try and suppress your mind. This is not a battle. Just acknowledge thoughts and go back to breathing. Be loving and gentle. Your thoughts and feelings are yourself – not enemies to conquer.
3) After you begin to be able to gently focus on your breathing you’ll notice your body and mind naturally becoming calmer. This calming will begin to bring you a feeling of joy. This joy is a very important part of the healing part of meditation.
4) Later, after some practice, we can begin to use our calm, focused mind and include the other thing in our attention; perhaps a feeling or thought that arises or to look at ourselves and the world around us more deeply.
5) This ability to look deeply can reveal the roots of our suffering and our way out of suffering; and reveal the true nature of ourselves and the world. This leads to liberation and awakening
Sitting meditation is a foundation of our practice; however, our practice is much more. The practice is to strive to come back to the awareness of our breath and mindfulness throughout the day. We do this through the use of mindfulness poems, called gathas, and through reminders throughout the day that we call mindfulness bells. Other practices include walking meditation, outside or in; and the practice of mindful living with the help of the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness trainings, also called precepts.
With this practice we can begin to slow down and be truly in touch with our life. With practice we can begin to look deeply to see the roots of suffering and learn ways to transform and heal suffering. We can bring joy, compassion, and love to ourselves and to our families, friends, and to the world and all its beings.
We hope that you will find the practice of awareness of breathing and mindfulness helpful in your life.