An Excerpt from Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond
Take the time to focus on what is most important to you. Focus on what gives you the most wonderful feeling. Put that into a word or a phrase or a sentence and begin to breathe it into every cell of your body.
Be creative! Breathe your intention. Take five minutes right now to do this exercise. Create or choose your own empowering statement, affirmation, declaration, wish or prayer. Choose your own soothing or strengthening words.
Make sure the words you choose lift you up or calm you down. Make sure they inspire or motivate you to be your best, bring you peace and are wonderful thoughts and beautiful feelings. Make sure you are creating or inviting a reality that you can live with forever; that you are breathing as you do this thinking process. And make sure you let yourself feel the feelings that these words bring up in you.
What are the most beautiful words you could speak to yourself? What are the most beautiful words you could speak to someone else? What do you wish for yourself and for the world? What are your highest aspirations? What is your heart’s grandest desire? What is your purpose, your mission in life? What is your fondest dream? A heartfelt intention fueled by the power of the breath can change everything.
This is a creative process. You are bringing together consciousness and energy, thought and action: this is the essence of creativity. Be careful what you think about while you breathe, because every breath you take gives life force energy to what you hold in consciousness. As they say, “thought is creative,” and “thoughts become things.”
Vipassana & Insight Meditation
Ram Dass originally turned me on to Buddhist meditation, and Milton Young, my mentor at UMass Dartmouth, inspired me to dive deeply into the practice, convincing me to do a number of intensive vipassana meditation retreats. It was just what I needed as I tried to get my footing after leaving the military. And I was fortunate to live within driving distance of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts.
I studied with Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, and that led me to meeting the venerable Ajahn Chah. Looking back now, I realize what a rare opportunity, and what a blessing, it was to study and practice with such a great master and to be guided by such powerful, sincere and genuine spiritual teachers so early in my learning process.
Vipassana meditation is a simple technique where you sit quietly and watch your breath. Sitting for hours on end paying attention to your breath gives you sore knees and a sore butt, but it can also result in powerful spiritual breakthroughs. The practice is like training a wild monkey. You put a collar on it, give it a short leash, and tie it to a post. It kicks and screams and tries everything to break free and run wild. But after some time, it gives up, lets go, and learns to sit still. Then you don’t even need the post and leash anymore.
Vipassana is monkey-mind training. I am so grateful to my teachers, and to myself, for practicing it long enough to come out of the dark tangled jungle of my head and into the bright inner sky of my heart.
I cannot recommend vipassana meditation enough. Deciding to practice it was one of the wisest decisions I ever made. It still helps me at every step on my path of breath mastery. As with any spiritual practice involving a lineage, it’s a good idea to get as close to the source of it as possible. So, I suggest you do a Google search, consult with your intuition, and choose a teacher with a long history of practice in this method, and then dive into it fully. You will be glad you did.
Here’s the practice: sit comfortably but erect in a chair or on a cushion. Turn your attention to the breath, to the feelings and sensations of the air coming in and going out. Nothing to do: just observing, just being consciously aware of your breathing. When your mind wanders — and it will — just return your attention to the breathing. Simple. Do this mindfulness practice for ten or twenty minutes right now, and make it a regular practice.