Background: You might find this to be most effective after exercise 47. In some ways, it is a follow-up to that exercise.
Our every day assumption is that our consciousness (ego, mind) is in control of things like our breathing. The main evidence for this assumption is rooted in the idea that when I think “I am going to breathe slowly now.” I do, in fact, start to breathe slowly.
However, it is worth noticing a few things about this assumption. The first is that (thankfully) when we stop thinking about our breathing, we continue to breathe. The second is that if we asked for an account of how we do things like change our breath or move an arm, we couldn’t give much more of an explanation than “well, I think about it, then it happens.”
There are some aspects of neuroscience that are beginning to endorse the idea that our consciousness tells a story about what is going on and our body, rather than causing those changes to take place. In other words, there are good reasons to suppose that when we begin to breathe slowly, we think “I am going to breathe slowly now.” and assume our thought caused the action, when in fact, the opposite is true.
- Find a relaxed position. Generally speaking, this will be a seated position with feet flat on the floor and spine as straight as is comfortable.
- Notice your breath. Allow yourself to be aware of it with out seeking to change it.
- Feel the inhale: notice where the breath comes in on the nostrils or mouth. Observe the flow of air down the throat and into the belly.
- Feel the exhale. Notice the difference in the temperature and moisture of the air as it leaves the body.
- Continue this for at least three more breaths. Continue longer if that feels right.
- As you continue to observe this process, recall that a story goes that God reached down and breathed into a handfull of Earth. After that breath, there was Adam.
- Observe the exhale.
- Continue this for two more breaths: God-in-the-universe is breathing you.
- Open your heart and mind to the awareness that other people and animals in your area (perhaps your family in other bedrooms, or the other occupants of the building you are in) are breathing, too; God-in-the-universe is breathing them.
- As you complete a second and third breathe with this awareness, continue to observe this breath being breathed in you.
- Open your mind and heart to the plants and even microscopic organisms all around you. Some living things inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Others do the reverse. See the world breathing in all these creatures.
- Sit in this flow and connection for as long as you would like.
- Can you widen this network of connections? Can you make it geographically larger? Can you expand the nature of the interconnections.
- When you are ready, return to your every day world. Hold on to the connections between the rest of the world that were deepened here.
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