“Heart Breath” Meditation

Posted: March 19, 2015 in Sidewalk Spirituality

Several years ago, when I first began to study Theravada Buddhism, I was introduced to the Vipassana (Insight) meditation technique. I practiced for perhaps a year or so. After that I set it aside.  That was ten years ago.  These days I do not consider myself a Buddhist, but I walk the same path that the Buddha did.  How did I achieve my own enlightenment?

When my true spiritual journey began back in September of 2014, I found myself meditating again, but it was a very different variation on the Insight meditation theme. My research has shown me that this is called “Dry” Insight meditation. But with further refinement because even that description isn’t quite accurate.

While it will be difficult to convey the full nature of this practice with words, I offer the following imperfect explanation of this type of meditative contemplation.  Why is this important?  Because this practice allows us to communicate with our own souls – and through them – to communicate directly with God.

It slows down our thinking, clears our minds, grounds us in the present moment, and opens our hearts.  God lives in our hearts.  It does not matter what you call God.  It is the beingness that exists beyond our being of which we are all a part.  God is love.  Opening our hearts allows us to fully experience that love for ourselves – and to become love itself.

Begin by assuming a comfortable sitting or standing position.  You can even do this while laying down, while walking, while engaging in conversation, etc.  But to get started, just get comfortable and be still.

Use a HARD breath to draw air in through the nostrils. Feel the force of the air as it moves inward into the nasal passage. Hold it for a moment. Use a HARD breath to push the air back out of your nostrils again. Feel the force of the air as it moves out of the nasal passage. Practice these hard breaths for a moment or two.

Now use a LONG breath to draw air down into your lungs. Ignore the nostrils and focus only on the sensation of air filling your lungs. Feel the sensation of your lungs filling up – fill them fully. Hold it for a moment. Use a LONG breath to expel the air from your lungs. Feel your lungs emptying of air. Practice these long breaths for a moment or two.

Now use a DEEP breath to draw air down into your belly. Ignore the nostrils and the lungs and focus only on the sensation of your belly rising as you draw the air in. Feel the belly rise with the in breath. Hold it for a moment. Use a DEEP breath to expel the air from within you. Feel your belly fall as you expel this air. Practice these deep breaths for a moment or two.

Now use a GROUNDING breath to draw air down into you bottom, or down to the bottoms of your feet, depending on whether you are sitting or standing. Ignore the nostrils, lungs, and belly. Feel your breath at the base of your beingness. This one requires more mental discipline than what we’ve covered so far. Here the focus is on seeing the breath as a means of grounding the body fully in reality. Practice these grounding breaths for a moment or two.

Now use a BODILY breath to bring everything together. Within the bodily breath, you will focus on the sensation of drawing air in through the nostrils. You will feel it fill the lungs. You will feel the belly rise. You will feel the grounding effect at the base of your beingness. Try this with HARD breaths, LONG breaths, DEEP breaths, and GROUNDING breaths, experiencing the entire process of the breath from the point of entry back to the point of exit. Feel the flow of it throughout your entire body. Do the same thing as you exhale, watching the breath move out through the entire system. Practice these bodily breaths for a moment or two.

Lastly, once you’ve developed a sense of the process and what you are aiming for, try drawing in a HEART breath. For me, this is the culmination of the practice and where the strength of it really begins to shine. We all carry a tightness in the center of our chests – where the heart is. To take a HEART breath is to move from the BODILY breath to a concentrated center and to breath into that tightness. With practice, one can loosen the tightness and unlock the center!

Once you unlock the center things will begin to shift for you rather dramatically.  For one, you will experience a powerful sense of energy that emanates from within the heart and permeates your entire torso area.  You may begin to experience shifts in perspective.  You may begin to feel more loving and more kind.  Things may also become a bit confusing – all of which is normal.  It is just a sign that you are beginning to step out of your ego.

What comes next is subtlety. We must see the breath as something that offers us life. It is by the very grace of God that we have an in breath. It is by the very grace of God that we have an out breath. This is what it means to live. This is why “the breath of life” is found so many times in the bible and in many other religious and spiritual traditions. The breath IS life!

As we work to see the breath as a process – as we feel the breath through every stage of the bodies breathing process, we gain a new and far more profound sense of what it means to be truly alive. Once we have a handle on the basics, we then lighten the breath and focus on subtlety. We no longer concentrate on HARD, LONG, DEEP, GROUNDING, BODILY, HEART breaths. Instead, we experience the fullness of the sensation called breathing. From beginning to end!

Once greater subtlety is achieved, one can use the breath as follows:
“I am lost outside the breath. I am not being mindful of my breath”
“I close my eyes and begin to concentrate on my breath”
“I feel the breath at the tip of the nostrils and I focus on it until I am fully in the present moment”
“I now bring my attention to the entirety of the breathing process and feel it fully”
“I reach into my center with my breath, allowing it to ground me fully in the present moment”
“I caress my soul with my breath and I open myself to an internal dialogue with it”
“I deepen this sense of connection and begin to relax into it”
“The more my practice deepens, the more balanced I become”

As one deepens even further, one begins to notice that this process is completely doable – and most valuable WHEN ACTIVELY ENGAGING IN THE WORLD!

I do not spend my time meditating on a cushion. I meditate in every part of my life… Meditation on a cushion is certainly good practice, but unless one carries the meditative state with them into their actual life, it offers very little real value. Instead, we must work to cultivate a relationship with our soul, through the breath, that can then be used to obtain guidance from one moment to the next in our daily lives. THIS is where balance exists… Being able to breath into the body and into the heart is where self-discovery truly begins! It is where life lives! It is where truth awaits!

There are other aspects of meditation that I will cover later, like the value of walking meditation, but for now the focus is on showing others how to speak to their own souls in the same manner that I speak to the soul that I carry within me. It is my soul that serves as a conduit to God, just as your own soul is YOUR conduit to God!

In essence, this process (combined with facing and letting go of our pain, and learning to discern the realities of synchronicity)  allows us to empty ourselves of ourselves and achieve at-one-ment with out creator, each other, and the entirety of the universe.

May you find your breath, touch your own soul, and experience your own connection with God. May you experience the love that awaits you there.  Do not enter into this practice blindly though.  Do some research of your own and work from a place of testing and confirming your own experiences – you may find that your journey has you exploring a different form of meditative contemplation – if it opens your heart then you are on the right track.


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