{simple pleasures} Riding the breath

27 January 2014 by Ingrid

Ridingthebreath

I’m new to this meditation thing. I first tried it last year, and though I saw the benefits really clearly, I struggled with it. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing, and so I dreaded getting into it, and I had trouble with the breathing and the sitting.

Now, I’m trying again with a little bit more support. I spent a good part of last fall working with a Hellerworker, (an excellent experience, if anyone out there is considering it) and as a result my breathing is much calmer and I’ve found a posture I can sit in comfortably. I’m also working my way through Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness, which offers a 28-day program for easing into meditation. She gives very clear directions for the meditations which helps with the “I must not be doing it right” problem.

Breakthroughs come in the smallest of moments, and when they do it is a special, private kind of joy. Last week, my mind was restless the entire meditation until the last minute. And then, all of a sudden I tuned into my breath, calmly rising and falling, like ocean waves. It was like being in the ocean, buoyant — I didn’t have to do anything, I could just float on the beautiful sine wave that was moving through me. I don’t always find that spot, but I know it’s there now, and just the possibility of it makes meditation a very simple pleasure.

If you’re thinking about trying meditation and you want a very simple technique, this one from Salzberg’s book really resonates with me: Sit comfortably, and follow the breath. As things arise, which they inevitably will, you can divide them into “breath” and “not breath.” This helped me so much because it made it ok to have “not breath” thoughts, and stopped me from judging myself for getting distracted. Then it’s easier to let go of them and come back to “breath.”

Have any of you ever felt that “riding the waves” feeling I’m talking about? Curious to hear from other meditators — veteran or newbie — about your experiences…

Image: mine, from our recent trip to Hawaii (more on that soon)

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