Allow the Experience to Speak for Itself

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Allow the Experience to Speak for Itself

Sometimes, our practice gets bogged down when we forget to enjoy and make it interesting.

We do the practice by applying a method, taking a methodological approach: “If I just follow the technique, I’m going to get peaceful somehow.” Actually, practice relies on the quality of awareness. The results we experience depend on the quality of our awareness and mindfulness: calming the bodily formation, which can be both the physical body and the breath body.

There was a question about relying on the breath body last night. The breath is another type of body because it conditions. The scriptural term is kāya-saṅkhāra, which is body formation. It can also mean “body conditioner,” as the breath is constantly conditioning the body. We can condition the body and work with that condition, that breath body, and relax, settle, and calm our experience of the body.

Of course, this has an effect on the mind and the heart. Also, when the physical body starts to settle, there’s the presence of alertness. That’s where we start to narrow things down a little bit, rein in the scope of our attention, although not in an overbearing way. It’s the natural wish of the heart not to have to deal with too much. We can bring that quality of clarity to something a bit more refined: just the sensation of the breath and how we experience the breath.

Don’t get too literal as the mind starts to settle. Allow the experience to speak for itself. Sometimes we can breathe, and the mind starts to get peaceful, and you could be experiencing a sensation of the breath that might not correspond to the anatomical picture you have of your nose, trachea, and lungs. It’s an experience of the breath body.

I can remember one time, I was getting really peaceful and settled, and the feeling of the breath came in, and it was about three feet in front of where I was sitting. That’s what it felt like. That’s not a problem because it is all part of your experience of the breath body. It doesn’t have to correspond to any kind of preconception. Just: “Is it peaceful?, Is it settling?, Is it clear?, Is there mindfulness or alertness there?, Am I reflecting or investigating?”

Pay attention to that, calming the body conditioner, the breath body.

This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Beneath the Bodhi Tree, (pdf) pp. 42-44.

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