Breath, Mindfulness and Liberation
J. Goldstein, (2007). in volume two of Abiding in Mindfulness – On Feelings… brings clear focus to the infinite importance of feelings – the sensation-based associations of various emotional and physical states. Via on-going and regular practice of mindfulness and contemplation we may access the four areas of human awareness: body, feelings, heart-mind, and dharma. The rising and falling away of all phenomena, especially human feelings, requires keen attention to internal emotional experiences. Being fully aware of how little control we may have over life experiences, or our own death, opens up the path to mindfulness of feelings as a form of liberation from typical samsaric Ups and Downs. As Sophia Newman reminds us , mindfulness awareness can flow between two poles: intense concentration and the more gentle absorption of whatever is happening right now. Now if the basis of pure experience. Be with the now of your deeper, slower breath.
Breathing as Spiritual Practice
W. Johnson (2019). Breathing as a Spiritual Practice…Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, pp.142-145 presents key understandings of the role breath plays in spiritual practices a meditation. Breath meditation allows sometimes safer space for our deeper, darker personal experiences. Once you take more control of the breath, move it deeper and slower into your depths. When mind wonders off, gently bring it back to focus – the breath. Allow the breath to become a multi-faceted experience in complete awareness. After breath meditations it may be helpful to journal about your inner experiences. B. D. Lamson reminds us when facing adversity it is best to use the breath as your ally. C. Feldman adds it is better to receive the breath as it presents; only later taking more control of how you utilize your breath and respond to it. Even when receiving and allowing the breath to be what it is, simply be with your self-consciousness and uncertainty. No special focus on breath can produce soothing, but more and more practice of allowing then controlling may open up doors to empowerment. Empowerment may lead to more soothing life experience.
What does dharma wisdom have to offer here?
Breath may be associated with aspects of human trauma and recovery from it. Embodiment of emotional experiences is significant in suffering and recovery. Embodied emotional experience that was harmful can be the most visceral type of memory based on traumatic pain. Use breath as a means to reach stabilized awareness and, hopefully, calmness may be within reach; however, without phased in experience of mind-body recall of trauma, use of the breath may be a slow-developing skills. Since breath is clearly linked to the central nervous system and its actions/reactions, breath is highly sensitive to past and present events. Whereas psychodynamic insight and cognitive-behaviors skills may be valuable in recovery, ignoring work with the breath may lead to failed efforts. Slowly integrating pleasant and unpleasant bodily experiences – mainly in memory, sensation and breath – has the potential to open up pathways to deep healing. Careful use of Eastern dharma realities in Western psychotherapy may enhance comfort, empowerment, and outcomes of therapy. Note, however, that expertise in both Eastern and Western approaches is required.
For more information refer to Goldstein, J. (2007). Abiding in Mindfulness – Feelings, the Mind and Dhamma. Sounds True, CDs. See also Johnson, W. (2019). Breathing as Spiritual Practice… Rochester, Vt.: Inner traditions, pp. 142-145. And tricycle.org/magazine/receiving breath meditation…pp. 1-3. See also Welch, B. (Winter, 2021). Psychotherapy, embodiment and the Dharma. The National Psychologist, P. 10
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness