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Being with Your Breath

In Chapter 4 ("Sitting Meditation") of Full Catastrophe Living Jon Kabat-Zinn, describing his work with patients in his mindfulness-based stress reduction clinic, comments on the power of simplicity:

For the first few weeks, we just watch the breath come in and go out. You could practice in this way forever and never come to the end of it. It just gets deeper and deeper. The mind eventually becomes calmer and more relaxed, and mindfulness becomes stronger and stronger.

In the work of meditation the simplest techniques, such as awareness of breathing, are as profoundly healing and liberating as more elaborate methods, which sometimes people mistakenly think are more "advanced." In no sense is being with your breath any less "advanced" than paying attention to other aspects of inner and outer experience. All have a place and value in cultivating mindfulness and wisdom. Fundamentally it is the quality and sincerity of your effort in practicing and the depth of your seeing that are important rather than what "technique" you are using or what you are paying attention to. If you are really paying attention, any object can become a door into direct moment-to-moment awareness. But mindfulness of breathing is a very powerful and effective anchor for all other aspects of meditative awareness. For this reason we will be returning to it over and over again.

(cf. Wherever You Go, There You Are (2008-10-26), ...) - ^z - 2010-02-20

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