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How Just One Breath Can Help

meditating stream just one breath photoSome evocative writing from Gary Snyder:

In this world of onrushing events the act of meditation – even just a “one-breath” meditation – straightening the back, clearing the mind for a moment – is a refreshing island in the stream.

Although the term meditation has mystical and religious connotations for many people, it is a simple and plain activity. Attention, deliberate stillness and silence. As anyone who has practiced sitting knows, the quieted mind has many paths, most of them tedious and ordinary. Then, right in the midst of meditation, totally unexpected images or feelings may sometimes emerge, and suddenly there is a way into a vivid clarity.

…whatever comes up, sitting is almost always instructive. There is ample testimony that a practice of meditation pursued over months and years brings increased self-understanding, serenity, focus, and self-confidence to the person who stays with it. There is also a deep gratitude that one comes to feel for this world of beings, teachers, and teachings.

…Meditation is not just a rest or retreat from the turmoil of the stream or the impurity of the world. It is a way of being the stream, so that one can be at home in both the white water and the quiet pools. Meditation may take one out of the world, but it also puts one totally into it.