There is a sacred stillness to which we may return,
There to rediscover our true nature.
In this present moment, merely breathing in and out,
Illusion falls away and we are free.
This is a minimalist poem I once wrote immediately after meditating. I was really “blissing out” after twenty minutes of mantra meditation that was preceded by about a half hour of asana practice. Those moments were, in fact, a time of “sacred stillness” — sacred in the sense of being set apart for spiritual practice. When we return again and again to that sacred space and rediscover our true nature, we can feel the illusions that cause us to suffer fall away with every breath.
Our joy can increase with every breath as well. We can feel it gradually spread to every part of our bodies and minds until it becomes truly limitless. There’s a reason love, joy and peace are everyone’s deepest heart’s desire: they are our true nature; the states we’re all trying to return to. Living in forgetfulness, we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Going through life unconsciously, we’ve allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into thinking that the perpetual accumulation of material goods will make us happy. When they fail to do so again and again, our unconsciousness blinds us to the fact that we’re on the wrong path. Instead of changing course, we blunder ahead, convinced that all we need is just a little more. We’re caught on a treadmill that never gives us true satisfaction.
What will bring us happiness is mindful living; simple awareness of what’s going on inside us and around us. This kind of awakening will produce a deep sense of connectedness to self, other beings, and the earth. Mindfulness begins with simple awareness of our breath. When we sit quietly, simply observing the miracle of ongoing in- and out-breaths that sustain our lives, we become deeply happy. We can start by silently saying to ourselves, “I’m aware of my in-breath.” As we exhale, we say, “I’m aware of my out-breath.” This brings present-moment awareness to the forefront of our consciousness. Instead of our bodies being in one place while our minds fly off in four or five different directions at once, body, mind and spirit come together and are joined as one.
If this seems simplistic, it’s because it is simple. A child can do it. You can do it while waiting in a doctor’s office; you can do it between appointments, you can do it while you work. Full awareness of breathing brings a quality of life that our ever-growing piles of material possessions cannot.
Boundless joy is available anytime, anywhere. To obtain it, we merely have to make mindfulness meditation a way of life.
All the best,