Breathing Through - A meditation
This is a guided meditation to help us feel our interconnection with the world, to allow feelings to flow into us from the world, and to allow them to flow back out again. It is adapted from an ancient Buddhist meditation practice for developing compassion. We shared this in our evening last Thursday.
Closing your eyes, focus on your breathing. Don't try to breathe in any special way, just watch the breathing as it happens. Note the sensations at the nose, the chest, the abdomen.
As you watch the breathing, note that it happens by itself, without your will, without your deciding each time to inhale or exhale. It's as though you're being breathed - being breathed by life. Just as everyone in this place, on this planet, is being breathed by life, sustained in a vast living breathing web...
Now visualize your breath as a stream or ribbon of air. See it flow up into your nose, down through your windpipe, and into your lungs. Now take it through the heart. Picture it flowing through your heart and out through your open heart. to reconnect with the larger web of life. Let your breath stream be one loop within that vast web, connecting you with it....
Now open your awareness to the suffering in the world. For now drop your defences and open to your knowledge of suffering... images of your fellow beings in pain and in need, in fear and isolation, in prisons, hospitals, slums, refugee camps... no need to strain for these images, they are present to you by virtue of our interexistence. Relax and let them surface, the countless hardships of our fellow human beings, and of our animal brothers and sisters... Breathe in the pain like granules of sand on the stream of air, up through your nose, down your throat, through your lungs and heart, and out again into the world. You are asked to do nothing now but let it pass through your heart. Be sure that stream flows through and out again, don't hang onto the pain... Surrender it for now to the healing resources of life's vast web...
If no feelings arise, only blankness and numbness, breathe through that. The numbness is a very real part of our world.
If what surfaces for you with the pain for others is the losses and hurts in your own life, breathe those through too. They are an integral part of the grief of the world, and arise with it....
'Let all sorrows ripen in me' said Shantideva. We help them ripen by passing them through our hearts... making good rich compost out of all that grief... so we can learn from it, enhancing our larger, collective knowing...
Should you fear that with this pain your heart will break, remember that the heart that breaks open can hold the whole universe. Your heart is that large. Keep breathing.
Adapted from Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone
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