DHAYana (continued)


The Buddha's instructions...

for meditation were simple: Breathing in I know that I am breathing in; breathing out I know that I am breathing out. Breathing in I breathe my whole self in and so I train myself; breathing out I breathe my whole self out and so I train myself.

The Vietnamese meditation master Thich Nhat Han, who urged his countrymen to practice dhyana while bombs and napalm dropped around them, offers a sweet addition: Breathing in I see myself as a flower, breathing out I feel fresh. Breathing in I see myself as a flower, breathing out our hands, lips, eyes are flowers we give one another every day...

Take a comfortable seated position and direct your attention to the movement of the breath. Whether you close your eyes like a yogi or keep them softly open as the Buddhists do, establish a drishti, or gaze, that lets your eyes stay quietly still. When your mind wanders to matters great and small, return to observing the mechanism of respiration. The American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön urges us to shepherd wandering attention back kindly, as you would a dear but fractious child: "Without making any big deal whatsoever, simply come back  ...  developing a nonaggressive attitude to whatever goes on in your mind," she advises. In meting out such lovingkindness to ourselves, Chödrön counsels, we cannot help but spread it around.

At the conclusion of asana practice, meditation becomes most effortless. You have used your muscles, worked the joints, and twisted your body this way and that, opening the channels of energy and stilling the mind. Tada drashtu svarupe 'vasthanam, the Yoga Sutra explains and we come to discover: Now the Seer, the true Self, is seen. And the glimpses of wholeness, or samadhi, that have taunted us all our lives become a drishti we choose to maintain. 

Salute the light within you and without you.